Melanoma: any time, any place, any person

Some of these melanoma statistics are surprising

In May, we invited a group of melanoma patient bloggers and advocates to discuss, among other things, raising melanoma awareness. We held the GSK Melanoma Summit then because it was Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® and summer was about to kick off. But now, even though summer is over, the sun doesn’t take a vacation. In the spirit of keeping the melanoma conversation going, we have compiled a recap of the summit and have stocked our website with educational information about melanoma. We think you’ll be surprised by some of the information you’ll find there.

For example:

  • During the fall and winter, sun exposure can be as dangerous as it is during warmer months. Studies have shown UV rays can get through clouds, fog and haze – even on a dreary day, up to 80 per cent can penetrate the atmosphere.
  • Many people don’t know to take precautions, like wearing sunscreen, while enjoying winter sports. Truth is, snow reflects as much as 80 percent of UV radiation.
  • Northern climates are as susceptible to melanoma as sunnier regions; in fact, some of the highest rates of melanoma have been reported in states like Washington, Oregon, and Vermont.
  • Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more prevalent among people with darker skin tones than Caucasians.

The conversation has been getting louder as this disease, tragically, touches more lives. Just this past July, US Surgeon General Dr .Boris Lushniak declared skin cancer a national epidemic and urged Americans to take preventative measures. Dr. Lushniak’s “Call to Action” report stated that melanoma is responsible for the most deaths of all skin cancers, with nearly 9,000 people dying from it each year.

In recent months, policy efforts like the Sunscreen Innovation Act have helped to prompt the US FDA to approve more sunscreen ingredients, and at the state level, there are stricter regulations being placed on indoor tanning. Positive gains are being made and those of us in the melanoma community should celebrate that.  However, we also know there’s still a long road ahead to make sure people realize the risks of UV exposure.

We all know that melanoma never stops, so I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge this inspirational group of survivors and advocates. Thanks to them and others in the community, the conversation around melanoma and our united fight against this serious disease won’t stop, either.