Skin Cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis in the United States and the incidence of skin cancer and melanoma are continually on the rise. There is a difference between basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell cancers are very common and are rarely deadly, however, melanoma skin cancers can be very aggressive and life threatening. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s risk for developing melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than 5 sunburns.
Coming from a generation who laid in the sun with baby oil on… 5 sunburns seem minimal… but how costly those sunburns may be as our generation continues to age. We can stop this cycle by educating our young people now so they understand the risks of sun exposure and how they can protect themselves. They need to understand the dangers of sunburns/suntans, tanning beds, and repetitive unprotected exposure to the sun.
There are many free resources available through the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Skin Cancer Foundation to help address the importance of sun protection and sun safety with children ages kindergarten through high school aged. These resources highlight important details on how kids and young adults can protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun and decrease their chances of developing skin cancer or a life threatening diagnosis of melanoma.
Resources are available for grades K-2, grades 3-5, and the Rays Awareness Skin Cancer Program which is suited more for teens and high school students. Included are classroom activities, games, coloring pages, sun safety resources, videos, lesson plans, toolkits, etc.
If the school your children or grandchildren attend does not presently incorporate sun safety programs into their curriculum… be an advocate for this. Share this information with school administrators and ask that they strongly consider educational sessions for all age groups surrounding this very critical and serious topic.
Learning about skin protection at a young age within the school system or at home, reinforces the information and helps our children understand the key details about this very important topic and health concern. New lessons about sun safety can be provided for each age group so they hear the information each school year. Preparing our children for their future and their children’s future is something we should take great pride in. They will be more apt to share this information with future generations which in turn may help reduce skin cancer incidence rates for many years to come.
As a parent or grandparent, you too, can take action and utilize these free resources. Take time to review them with your children and grandchildren. Together we CAN make a difference.