Statement from Tim Turnham, Executive Director, Melanoma Research Foundation, Regarding Surgeon General’s Skin Cancer Call to Action
Despite the epidemic rise in melanoma incidence and the increasingly heavy toll it is taking on young adults, this cancer has remained low on the public health radar screen. The report issued today by “the nation’s doctor” changes the national conversation and recognizes that skin cancer is a major health threat that warrants coordinated action.
Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers and, on behalf of those fighting this disease, the MRF commends the Surgeon General for issuing today’s Call to Action on skin cancer prevention
. This robust Call to Action pulls together the best thinking about the rise in skin cancer, recognizes gaps in prevention and identifies important actions that must be taken to reduce melanoma.
Just like obesity, cancer and infectious disease, the burden of melanoma and other skin cancers can be reduced with healthy behaviors and smart policies. We applaud the Surgeon General for recognizing the need for effective action in decreasing the rates of melanoma in this country. Fighting a public health problem like skin cancer, and specifically melanoma, will require a major cultural shift. This report represents the broad spectrum change of thinking around this healthcare issue we will need to save lives.
Implementing the five goals outlined in the report, and the specific actions within each goal, will undoubtedly save lives and reduce the $8.1 billion in costs associated with treating skin cancer, including $3.3 billion for melanoma alone. To stop the alarming increase in rates of melanoma, individuals and organizations on the national, state and local levels must collaborate. In clearly outlining gaps in prevention, the Surgeon General’s office lays important groundwork for addressing needs long recognized by the melanoma patient community. For example:
- Goal 2 states that efforts must be geared to provide individuals with the information they need to make informed, healthy choices about UV exposure. Routinely, people diagnosed with melanoma tell us they wish they had known more about the risks of UV exposure. An educated consumer is more likely to make better and smarter decisions about their health, including limiting exposure to damaging UV radiation.
- Goal 4 urges a reduction in harms from indoor tanning. People with a history of indoor tanning, who are then diagnosed with melanoma, are angry and frustrated over the misinformation promoted by the tanning industry, which often targets teens and young women by playing on common insecurities.
- Goal 5 calls for strengthening research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention. These improvements will help address the problem of underreporting of melanoma, and help appropriately prioritize research to combat this disease.
Melanoma diagnoses are at almost epidemic rates, and the men, women and children fighting for their lives against this cancer will find great encouragement in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action, in which he addresses gaps in prevention that patients have known about, but have not have the resources to address.
Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and can strike men and women of all ages, all races and skin types. With a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, nearly 77,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2014, resulting in almost 10,000 deaths. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old.
The majority of melanomas occur on the skin; in fact, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma can also occur in the eye (ocular, or uveal melanoma), in mucous membranes (mucosal melanoma), or even beneath fingernails or toenails.
About the Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org
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Media Contact: Lauren Smith Dyer