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April 29, 2016

The Monday, May 2 is Melanoma Monday. Designated by the American Academy of Dermatology, the first Monday in May is a day to raise awareness about melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and to encourage early detection.

Through our work with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and their commitment to effective cancer prevention, education, treatment and research, we recognize the paramount importance to promote behavior that will reduce a child’s lifelong risk of developing cancer. Chief among them: educating children about sun protection, a key prevention measure to help reduce the risk of skin cancer later in life. Ray and the Sunbeatables™: A Sun Safety Curriculum for Preschoolers, developed by MD Anderson, is an evidence-based program aimed to educate children, parents, and teachers about sun protection and sun safety behaviors. Beginning in August 2016, this curriculum will also be available for children in Kindergarten – 1st grade.


The Facts

  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.1
  • Anyone, regardless of skin color, can develop skin cancer. 2
  • The number of new cases of melanoma, the most fatal type of skin cancer, continues to increase each year. A total of 76,380 cases3 of invasive melanoma are expected in 2016.
  • Being sunburned at least once during childhood doubles the risk of melanoma.4
  • Five or more blistering sunburns from age 15 to 20 increases melanoma risk by 80%.5
  • Starting indoor tanning before age 18 increases melanoma risk by 85%. Starting between age 18 and 24 increases melanoma risk by 91%.6

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Skin Cancer Prevention Needs to Start Early

As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. Knowing these important facts can help you begin discussions with young children and adolescents to practice sun safety behaviors:

  • At least half of children and adolescents report 1 or more sunburns per year.7
  • Only 10% of high school students routinely use sunscreen.8
  • Five percent of high school student males and 20% of females report indoor tanning at least once in the past 12 months.9
  • Indoor tanning is most prevalent in young adults, especially non-Hispanic white women.10
  • A survey of the top 125 colleges/universities showed that 48% had indoor tanning facilities on campus and/or in off-campus housing.11
  • Commercial tanning facilities outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s in 116 large U.S. cities.12


Sun Safety Tips

Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention. Here are some tips on how to stay sun safe provided my MD Anderson:

  • Cover up by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and protective clothing
  • Use sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 30 and reapply regularly
  • Stay in the shade
  • Be super-protected or avoid sun exposure when shadows are shorter (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)


  1. 1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2015.
  2. 2. Rouhani P, Pinheiro PS, Sherman R, et al. Increasing rates of melanoma among nonwhites in Florida compared with the United States. Archives of Dermatology. 2010; 146:741-746.
  3. 3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2016.
  4. 4. Dennis LK, Vanbeek MJ, Beane Freeman LE, Smith BJ, Dawson DV, Coughlin JA. Sunburns and risk of cutaneous melanoma: does age matter? A comprehensive meta-analysis. Ann Epidemiol. 2008;18:614-627.
  5. 5. Wu S, Han J, Laden F, Qureshi AA. Long-term ultraviolet flux, other potential risk factors, and skin cancer risk: a cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23:1080-9.
  6. 6. Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, Weinstock MA, Anderson KE, Warshaw EM. Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly exposed population. Cancer Epidemiology,
  7. 7. Hall HI, McDavid K, Jorgensen CM, Kraft JM. Factors associated with sunburn in white children aged 6 months to 11 years. Am J Prev Med 2001;20:9-14.
  8. 8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kann L, Kinchen S, et al. Youth risk behavior surveillance – United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2014; 63 (SS-04):1-168
  9. 9. Guy GP, Jr., Berkowitz Z, Everett Jones S, Holman DM, Garnett E, Watson M. Trends in indoor tanning among US high school students, 2009-2013. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151:448-50.
  10. 10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of indoor tanning devices by adults-United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2012; 61:323-326.
  11. 11. Pagoto SL, Lemon SC, Oleski JL, et al. Availability of tanning beds on US college campuses. JAMA Dermatology. 2015; 151:59-63
  12. 12. Pagoto et al. 2015