Why Should You be Concerned about Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Anyone, regardless of skin color, can develop skin cancer. The number of new cases of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, has increased yearly. Alarmingly, melanoma is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. One person dies from melanoma every hour.
For more information about the types of skin cancer, please refer to the Resources section.
The good news?
Skin cancer can be prevented.
Why is Sun Protection Important?
The main preventable risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning devices. The sun produces UV rays, which are invisible rays that can cause sunburn and other skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. There are two types of UV rays that can cause skin damage:
- UVA: Present at mostly constant levels throughout the day.
- UVB: Peak in intensity from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than do UVB rays, and cause skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. UVB rays affect the outermost layer of our skin and are most responsible for sunburn. It is important to protect skin from UV rays.
Sun protection is important year-round, even on cloudy or cold days. UV rays can pass through the clouds to reach your skin. You can also get a sunburn in the winter. Sunburn during childhood is a major risk factor for melanoma. It is important for children to develop sun protection habits to reduce their lifetime risk of skin cancer.
Be a Sun Safety Role Model!
Sunburn during adulthood also increases skin cancer risk. It is important for children’s teachers and parents to be protected from the sun to reduce their skin cancer risk and model sun safety for children. Be a sun safety role model so students can see that you think sun protection is important for yourself and for them. You will have a long-term and positive impact on their health.
You can be a role model to your students and their parents by practicing sun safety behaviors, such as applying sunscreen before you go outside or wearing protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat, in front of students and parents. This also helps to create positive social norms about sun protection at your school, to communicate that, “We practice sun protection here, and we’re a Sunbeatables® school.”
Positive reinforcement also increases students’ confidence in their abilities to perform sun safety behaviors.
With your participation, sun safety can be a fun and enjoyable experience for students.
Calling All Educators!
Each of you can use the Sunbeatables program to teach and reinforce sun safety at your school.
- Music teachers can lead students in learning and singing Sun Safety Songs.
- Art teachers can instruct students how to “Draw a Sun Safety Superhero” or “Make a Sun Safe Hat.”
- Physical Education (P.E.) coaches and teachers can put sun safety concepts into practice by ensuring students are protected from the sun. Do not forget recess!
- Nurses can teach and reinforce sun safety concepts.
- School administrators can oversee efforts including parent communications.
THE SUNBEATABLES® PROGRAM