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Let’s Help Spread the Word About Melanoma!

Coolibar - Melanoma Awareness Prevention Month

May is officially Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Coolibar kicks it off with another boost for awareness, detection and prevention of melanoma – the deadliest of skin cancers. Together, melanoma, squamous cell skin cancer and basal cell skin cancer make skin cancer the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the U.S.

At the same time, according to the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF), efforts to prevent melanoma/skin cancer are the most underfunded of all cancer types. The foundation says melanoma is the least screened cancer, and melanoma detection is not a training requirement for most medical disciplines.Coolibar - Poolside Sun Hat

What Can We Do?

The MIF says:

  • Seek shade and avoid direct sun during the peak hours of 10-4
  • Cover up with protective clothing and use sunscreen lotion
  • Protect your children and role-model sun safe behavior
  • Examine your skin and that of your loved ones each season for any changes that should be checked by a dermatologist
  • Avoid tanning salons: 15 minutes is equal to a whole day’s exposure at the beach!

What Else Can We Do?

Let’s stay aware! Most people don’t realize how a melanoma diagnosis changes someone’s life. Do you?

Coolibar has some special posts ready for you this month. Each week you can meet a melanoma survivor with a story that will amaze you. If you don’t know much about melanoma, these personal stories will help you learn about it quickly. They should also give you a nice dose of motivation. One thing we’re sure of: by the time you finish hearing from these people, you’ll have a different outlook on life.

Key Dates

Our first featured melanoma survivor will be introduced next week, following Melanoma Monday® on May 5. The American Academy of National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention Dont Fry DayDermatology (AAD) has designated the first Monday of each May to raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer and to encourage early detection through self-exams.

Also, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention declares the Friday before Memorial Day as Don’t Fry Day to encourage sun safety awareness. This year, Don’t Fry Day is on Friday, May 23.

Stay up to date with Coolibar activities on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Another great way to stay aware during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month is to sign up for our weekly emails at Coolibar.com. You’ll get links to all of our stories, plus some extra savings on Coolibar merchandise!

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What History Tells Us About Skin Cancer and African Americans

February is African American History Month. Among much else, it can serve as a fitting reminder about a myth that has persisted for too long: African Americans (and those with darker skin tones) can’t get skin cancer. In fact, among the African American population, melanoma – the most serious kind of skin cancer – is much more deadly than among Caucasians.

You may have heard that naturally dark-skinned people have less chance of getting skin cancer, and that is true.  Darker skin naturally has more melanin, the dark pigment that protects against the sun’s UV rays. But the simple fact is, no one is immune to skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation shares these facts:

  • The overall 5-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent  for Caucasians.
  • 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma, versus 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.
  • Melanomas in African Americans (and other nationalities, including Asians, Filipinos and Indonesians) most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment. Up to 75 percent of tumors arise on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer among African Americans. It tends to be more aggressive and carry a 20-40 percent risk of metastasis (spreading).
  • Skin cancer comprises one to two percent of all cancers in African Americans.  

Why is this? One reason is that the familiar story about how darker skin has a higher SPF than lighter skin (which it does) has for too long translated into “My dark skin prevents me from getting skin cancer” (which it doesn’t). It’s important to keep skin cancer top of mind; early diagnosis is often critical in successfully treating melanoma and other skin cancers.

Another big reason, according to Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, is within the medical community. Crutchfield is a board-certified dermatologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with specialized experience treating ethic skin. He says that the relatively higher incidences of skin cancers among Caucasians – and therefore the related training for physicians – makes it more difficult for professionals to diagnose skin cancer among African Americans and other ethnic groups. The lesions, moles and other symptoms that commonly help with a skin cancer diagnosis do not always appear as readily on someone with darker skin.

Skin cancer in African Americans is also more apt to develop in harder-to-find areas such as under fingernails or toenails.

So education is one of our most effective tools to combat skin cancer. As African American History Month continues, keep in mind how you can avoid skin cancer.

Be SunAWARE and be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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