Making Seniors Aware of Skin Cancer that Kills One
American Per Hour is National Effort
Free skin screenings, new television ad targeting
older men, Consumer Reports on best, worst sunscreens. Mostly putting
focus on deadly melanoma skin cancer that most often hits seniors
May 27, 2014 – Too many Americans take skin cancer
too lightly. The reality is that one in
five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, and one person dies
from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour. Seniors should note that the risk of melanoma
increases with age – the average age of diagnosis is 61.This is
the time of year when skin cancer gets the most attention, since it
exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the summer sun that is most
often associated with the cause of skin cancers.
There is a flurry of activity by skin care
advocates and others to kick-off the summer season with information on
preventing skin cancers, especially from the sun and tanning booths, and
Don’t Swallow It!
American Academy of
Dermatology Statement on Drinkable Sunscreen
Recently, there has been media coverage
about “drinkable sunscreen” that claims to provide sun
protection through the ingestion of water that allegedly has
been infused with electromagnetic waves.
The American Academy of Dermatology
(Academy) wants to alert consumers that this drink should not be
used as a replacement for sunscreen or sun-protective clothing.
There is currently no scientific evidence that this “drinkable
sunscreen” product provides any protection from the sun’s
damaging UV rays.
Sunscreen is the only form of sun
protection that is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration (FDA). Broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of
at least 15 has been scientifically proven to prevent sunburn
and reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused
by the sun.
The Academy continues to recommends that
you still seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing and
wide-brimmed hat, and apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant
sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. For more sun protection
National Cancer Institute points out that skin cancer is more common
where the sun is strong. For example, more people in Texas than
Minnesota get skin cancer. Also, the sun is stronger at higher
elevations, such as in the mountains. (See more statistics below.)
Skin Cancer Foundation, that designated May as skin cancer month,
says it is chiefly a lifestyle disease that is highly preventable. The
organization urges seniors and others to “incorporate sun protection
measures into their daily life.” And, the Foundation is helping with
their Road to Healthy Skin Tour,presented by Rite Aid, a leading
drugstore chain. It will launch its annual cross-country journey this
month, bringing free skin cancer screenings to communities in 17 states
and the District of Columbia. (Details about tour below.)
American Academy of Dermatology says men older than 50 are at the
highest risk of developing melanoma.Today the Academy launched
“Lawn,” a public service advertisement (PSA) that encourages older men
to check their skin for suspicious or changing spots. (More about TV
Consumer Reports focuses their testing and rating experience on sun
screens and also has an article in their July edition exposing some
myths about sun screens. (More below.)
Consumer Reports Research Raises
Questions About Sunscreen SPF Claims
Many provide excellent protection from UVA and UVB
rays; Five common myths about sunscreen debunked
When it comes to sunscreen, SPF (sun protection
factor) is the feature that influences consumers’ purchasing decision
most. In its tests of 20 sunscreens, Consumer Reports found two
products – BullFrog WaterAmor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+ and Coppertone
Sensitive Skin SPF 50 – that provided the SPF promised on the label.
The full report and Ratings of sunscreens can be
found in the July 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and online at
Consumer Reports is recommending seven sunscreens
from - Banana Boat, BullFrog, Coppertone, Equate (Walmart), Neutrogena,
Up & Up (Target) and Well (Walgreens).
While not all of them met the SPF claimed on their
labels, the recommended sunscreens all provided very good to excellent
protection overall as well as against UVA and UVB rays individually.
Seven other sunscreens received only fair for
protection against UVA rays, which are linked to aging skin and skin
cancer. And three sunscreens received fair to poor ratings for UVB
protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to
sunscreen. Consumer Reports examined a handful of myths and sought to
set the record straight.
The FDA tests sunscreens before they hit store
shelves. The Food and Drug Administration requires sunscreen
manufacturers to test their products, but it doesn’t verify the testing,
require manufacturers to report results, or do premarket testing itself.
The agency does require sunscreen manufacturers to
meet certain standards for the use of the following terms on labels:
SPF, broad spectrum, and water-resistant.
Kids need a special formula. The FDA
doesn’t make a distinction between kids’ sunscreen and others, or hold
it to a higher safety standard. Manufacturers use the same active
ingredients, sometimes in the same concentration, in both types.
Some sunscreens for children (and adult sunscreens
for sensitive skin) contain only the minerals zinc oxide and/or titanium
dioxide as the active ingredients, because they may be less irritating
to skin than sunscreens containing chemicals, such as avobenzone. Some
kids’ products do, however, contain chemical sunscreens.
Spray sunscreens provide the best coverage.
If used correctly, spray sunscreens are protective. But it can be hard
for someone to judge the amount of sunscreen they are using, and that
can lead to much less protection.
Spray pattern can make a difference, too. Inhaling
spray sunscreen could cause lung irritation, and, when inhaled, titanium
dioxide is a possible carcinogen. And flammability is a danger when
sprays are used near an open flame.
Consumer Reports is an independent nonprofit
organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
themselves. It accepts no advertising and pay for all the products it
Cross Country Campaign Offers Free Skin Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy
Skin Tour, presented by Rite Aid, one of the nation’s leading
drugstore chains, will launch its annual cross-country journey this
month, bringing free skin cancer screenings to communities in 17 states
and the District of Columbia.
Now in its seventh year, the Road to Healthy Skin
Tour works with local volunteer dermatologists who provide quick, easy
and potentially life-saving full-body skin cancer screenings. This
year’s Tour begins on May 27 in New York City and ends on August 30 in
San Diego, Calif., making more than 50 stops along the way at Rite Aid
In addition to providing screenings the Tour raises
skin cancer awareness and educates the public about the importance of
prevention and early detection.
More than 18,000 people have received free
screenings since the Tour began in 2008. To date, more than 7,000
suspected cancers and precancers have been detected, including more than
300 suspected melanomas.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in
the United States, with more than two million people diagnosed each
year," said Rite Aid Executive Vice President of Pharmacy Robert
Thompson, RPh. " Rite Aid has been a part of the Road to Healthy Skin
Tour since its inception and we are proud to support the Foundation in
its mission to help raise skin cancer awareness as well as provide
potentially life-saving full-body skin cancer screenings to the
communities we serve.”
In addition to emphasizing the importance of early
detection, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone adopt a
complete sun-protection regimen that includes seeking shade, covering up
with clothing (including wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses)
and wearing broad spectrum sunscreen every day.
Tour participants will receive educational
materials that explain how to perform monthly skin checks at home and
the proper ways to protect the skin from the sun on a daily basis, along
with sunscreen samples and other giveaways. For the complete Tour
schedule, visit SkinCancer.org/Tour .
The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy
Skin Tour, presented by Rite Aid, receives additional support from
Energizer Personal Care – the makers of Banana Boat® and Hawaiian
Tropic® brand sunscreens – and BASF Corporation – a leading supplier of
UV filters and cosmetic ingredients.
Humor in Advertising Used to Urge Men Over 50 to
Check for Skin Cancer
The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) today
launched “Lawn,” a public service advertisement that encourages older
men to check their skin for suspicious or changing spots. Although
melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can strike anyone, men
older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the
“According to an Academy survey, men are less
likely than women to know how to examine their skin for signs of skin
cancer,” said board-certified dermatologist Thomas E. Rohrer, MD, FAAD,
clinical associate professor of dermatology at Boston University School
of Medicine. “Yet, checking your skin only requires a few minutes and
could save your life.”
Using humorous scenarios, “Lawn” points out that if
men will do anything to take care of a spot on their lawn, they should
do the same for a spot on their skin. Distributed to television and
cable stations nationwide, the TV PSA encourages men to check their skin
and have someone they trust check the areas they can’t see. “Lawn” can
be viewed on the Academy’s
YouTube channel and at
“Although the PSA uses humor to inspire action,
skin cancer is a serious matter,” said Dr. Rohrer. “When caught early,
skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable. If you see
something that is changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to
see a board-certified dermatologist.”
How to Recognize Melanoma Skin Cancer
About Care of
• Mature skin is physiologically
different from young skin and needs to be treated in a
• The incidence of skin problems tends
to be higher in older adults than in other age groups.
• There are certain skin conditions and
tumors that generally only occur in older adults.
To increase people’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, the
American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone learn the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning
signs of melanoma:
– is for Asymmetry:
One half of the mole does not match the other half.
– is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
– is for Color
that varies from one area to another.
– is for Diameter:
While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil
eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
– is for Evolving:
A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is
changing in size, shape or color.
In addition to launching the PSA, the Academy is
teaching everyone how to SPOT Skin Cancer™. SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the
Academy’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public
awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that
promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer.
On the Academy’s website –
visitors can learn how to perform a skin cancer self-exam through the “How
to SPOT Skin Cancer™” infographic, test how much they know –
or don’t know – about skin cancer through the
SPOT Skin Cancer™ Quiz, and
find free skin cancer screenings in their area. Individuals who have
been affected by skin cancer can share their personal stories and
provide support and inspiration for others fighting skin cancer, as well
as communicate the importance of prevention and early detection.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology
(Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most
representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of
more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to:
advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of
the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical
practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and
enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails.
For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or
www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on
Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or
What are the key statistics about
melanoma skin cancer?
Cancer of the skin is by far the
most common of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than 2% of skin
cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.
Here are the American Cancer
Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2014:
ŘAbout 76,100 new melanomas will be
diagnosed (about 43,890 in men and 32,210 in women).
ŘAbout 9,710 people are expected to die of
melanoma (about 6,470 men and 3,240 women).
The rates of melanoma have been
rising for at least 30 years.
Melanoma is more than 20 times more
common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk
of getting melanoma is about 2% (1 in 50) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000)
for blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics. The risk for each person
can be affected by a number of different factors, which are described in
the section “What
are the risk factors for melanoma skin cancer?”
The risk of melanoma increases with
age – the average age at the time it is found is 61. But melanoma is not
uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it is one of the
most common cancers in young adults (especially young women).
Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and
4 PM when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow
rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful UV
radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less
Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma
doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. UV
radiation from tanning machines is known to cause cancer in humans, and
the more time a person has spent tanning indoors, the higher the risk.
Those who make just four visits to a tanning salon per year can increase
their risk for melanoma by 11 percent, and their risk for the two most
common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell
carcinoma, by 15 percent.
Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed
hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form
of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven and
bright-or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. The more
skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants
Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen
with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor
activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen
with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen
to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply
every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens
may be used on babies over the age of six months, but they should
also be protected by shade and clothing. Children are very sensitive
to ultraviolet radiation— just one severe sunburn in childhood
doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
Examine your skin head-to-toe every
month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin
exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of
detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any
change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks
suspicious, see a physician immediately.
See your physician every year for a
professional skin exam.