MEF Evening of Perspectives

The Melanoma Education Foundation would like to thank everyone who braved the inclement weather on Friday, November 9 for our Evening of Perspectives event.  We would especially like to recognize MS Walker, The Brody Family, William and June Braunlich, Mitch and Merrill Applebaum and Steve and Gail Fine for their sponsorship of the event.

In addition to the wonderful food, music and auction, MEF also used this event as a platform to recognize members of the medical and educational community who have demonstrated a commitment to our mission of providing education focused on Melanoma early detection and prevention.  


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Dr. Joseph Kvedar

Dr. Joseph Kvedar, our keynote speaker and honoree, is a dermatologist and pioneer in the field of telemedicine. He is the Founder and Vice President of Partners Center for Connected Health, has been a Dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1984 and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School since 2002. He served as President of the American Telemedicine Association, Chairman of the American Academy of Dermatology Task Force on Telemedicine, co-founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at Healthrageous, Inc. and serves on the advisory boards of many companies.

He is internationally recognized for his leadership and vision in the field of connected health and has authored over 90 publications on the subject. He established the first physician-to-physician online consultation service in an academic setting, linking patients from around the world with specialists at Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals.

He is using information technology – cell phones, computers, networked devices and remote health monitoring tools – to create a new model of health care delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor’s office into the day-to-day lives of patients.   His book, “The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan” best summarizes the benefits of his work for all of us.  The topic of Dr. Kvedars speech was “Teledermatology.”


Janda Ricci-Munn, Manchester-Essex Regional Middle School

Janda Ricci-Munn is the MEF 2018 Honoree for Excellence in Health Education. He is the health teacher at Manchester-Essex Middle School in Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts. He began his teaching career there in 2005.
In addition to teaching, Janda owned and operated a triathlon and cycling coaching business while concurrently racing as a triathlete on the national level. After winning two consecutive Ironman 70.3 amateur world championship titles, he left teaching for three years to pursue his dream of professional racing.
He returned to teaching in the fall of 2011, spurred in large part by the loss of his father, long-time Gloucester High School track & field coach, Jim Munn, to melanoma. Janda has been using the MEF melanoma lesson since then and, because of the lesson, a student had an early melanoma removed, 4 others had precancerous moles removed, and Janda’s brother, Corey, had an early melanoma removed.
After students watch the lesson video, he uses the MEF “See Spot bookmarks” as a homework assignment to teach their family members about melanoma. And he took the additional step of providing faculty members with bookmarks. Spanish teacher Kristen Cressey shared with Janda’s class that the See Spot bookmark tipped her off to a suspicious mole on her husband’s back that turned out to be an early melanoma.
Janda resides in Gloucester with his wife and two children.  We congratulate Janda on this prestigious honor!

Jennifer Linscott Tietgen Family Foundation

The Jennifer Linscott Tietgen Family Foundation was established in memory of Jennifer, who lost her life to melanoma in 2002 at the age of 27. The Foundation has been our single most magnanimous supporter for more than 15 years. 

The Impact of MEF Melanoma Lessons

In March, 2017 MEF enlisted volunteer Marissa Picerno, a talented Emerson College Heath Communications graduate student, to develop and administer a health/wellness teacher web survey.  The goal of this survey was to gain insight into how high school students, middle school students, and teachers were impacted by the MEF Melanoma Lessons presented in their schools. Responses were received from 334 teachers.   Here is what we found:

  • 49 teachers were told by students that early melanomas were found because of the lesson.
  • 90.4% of teachers either strongly agreed or agreed that the online melanoma lessons changed their students’ perception of melanoma
  • 73% of teachers reported that students made appointments to get moles checked after receiving the lesson
  • 68% of teachers responded that, due to the MEF lessons, they or a family member and been examined by a dermatologist.
  • After the lessons, 95% of teachers reported students said they would use more sunscreen, and 81% reported students said they would stop using tanning beds.

In addition, teachers provided their opinion about the MEF Melanoma Lessons in their own words.  Check out the word cloud below to see the most hit upon theme.

Visit to access our classroom lessons for your students!

The Fairest Kids of All…Need to Do More to Protect Their Skin from Melanoma

Think that it is enough to apply sunscreen for your family beach days, kids soccer games or just doing yard work on the weekend? Think again. While it was previously thought that sunscreen was the key to keeping your skin and children safe from the sun’s powerful rays, it is now clear that a more comprehensive approach to sun safety must be taken and taught to your kids.
In May of 2018, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) actually changed their recommendations on when to teach your kids sun safety. The previous suggestion was to begin teaching children about sun safety at age 10. Now, due to the fact that children who get sunburns early in life are more likely to develop melanoma, coupled with the understanding that kids who learn sun
safety early are more apt to stick with it into adulthood, it is recommended that beginning at six months of age parents should be teaching their children about how to protect their skin from the sun.
In order to give your children the tools they need to keep their skin safe, just teaching them to apply sunscreen is no longer enough.  Recently, the National Cancer Institute analyzed over 28,500 responses from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey and, surprisingly, Kasey Morris, who led the study, commented that, “Regular sunscreen use, in the absence of other protective behaviors, was associated with the highest likelihood of sunburn.”
In their paper on the study, they went on to say, “Although participants who did not use sunscreen, seek shade, or wear protective clothing had a higher probability of sunburn (54.8%), the group with highest likelihood of sunburn consisted of those who used only sunscreen (62.4%). The group with the lowest probability of sunburn did not report using sunscreen but reported engaging in the other 3 protective behaviors (24.3%).”
This does not mean that you and your family should shift
from applying sunscreen to just wearing long sleeves and trying to
keep out of the sun. It is crucial to cover all of your bases.
The USPSTF makes the following recommendations for sun
protection of children:
• Wearing protective clothing, including hats
• Receiving proper advice on how to apply broad-spectrum
sunscreen, with a SPF of 15 or more
• Avoiding indoor UV tanning, and tanning beds
• Avoiding sun exposure in the middle of the day, between 10am and
4pm, when the rays are strongest
• Keep your family sun safe this summer!
Check out for comprehensive information on early self-detection and prevention of melanoma.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling to
Prevent Skin CancerUS Preventive Services Task Force
Recommendation Statement.JAMA. 2018;319(11):1134–1142.

Non-Melanoma Black Skin Growths

It is very important to have any suspicious new and pre-existing moles or skin growths checked out by a dermatologist in a timely fashion. However, it’s also important to understand that suspicious-appearing growth often turn out to be either benign, or a lesser form of skin cancer, than the potentially lethal melanoma.

This blog post focuses on 5 different forms of black skin growths that are not melanoma.

Seborrheic Keratosis

While its name may sound frightening, these waxy-textured skin growths are common in people who are middle-aged or older. They most often appear on the head and neck, but they can develop in any are except the palms and soles of the feet.

Seborrheic Keratosis

Blue Nevi

Nevi is just the medical term for the common mole. These most-often benign, isolated moles range from smooth to slightly elevated. They usually develop on the head, neck, back, palms and soles.

Blue Nevi

Black Skin Tags

Skin tags are those annoying (yet perfectly harmless) soft, mushroom-shaped protuberances that are often found on the neck or armpits. Nearly all of them will match your skin’s hue; but some change to black, and a few are black from the very start of development.

If a skin tag turns black, it’s due to a lack of oxygen and it will usually fall off within a week or two. While there are many ways to successfully deal with skin tags, some people have them removed with liquid nitrogen or tie them off with a strand of thread.

                                                    Black Skin Tag

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN)

DPN is another quite common condition. It consists of multiple small, benign skin lesions visible on the face that begin most often in puberty, and predominantly affect dark skin-toned individuals.


Pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma (PBCC)

As with Seborrheic Keratosis, Basal Cell Carcinoma sounds much worse than it actually is. It rarely, if ever, metastasizes (spreads to other areas of the body). PBCC can affect both light and dark-skinned individuals.


Please remember (and also let others know) that skin conditions, whether cancerous or not, do not discriminate; they can impact anyone of any skin color. Unfortunately for skin cancer, and positively for us, public education combined with the efforts of medical science will ultimately be its downfall.

The clock is ticking on melanoma; it’s only a matter of time.

*Additional source article credits: American Academy of Dermatology, DermNetNZ,

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

No Clean Pill of Health: A Skin Cancer Scam

In the 19th century, they were called “Snake-Oil Salesmen”; men who traveled from town-to-town pitching useless beverages that they touted as the cure for whatever ails you. They still exist today, except they’re now called “scammers”. And in our contemporary times, they have a wide variety of much more effective tools at their disposal.

Times and technology may have changed; but the practice of morally-divested people trying to scam the public for personal profit has not. Sometimes, despicably, they’re willing to endanger the health of others for money.

Accept No Substitutes

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has blown the whistle on multiple companies that sell tablets with the promise of protecting those who use them from the effects (including skin cancer and the potentially lethal melanoma) of the sun’s harmful UV rays. The FDA has, thankfully and publicly, lowered the boom on the following companies because their pills offer as much skin protection as eating a Tic Tac would. In other words, they offer none.

“-Advanced Skin Brightening Formula – made by GliSODin Skin Nutrients, of Toronto, Ontario

-Sunsafe Rx – made by Napa Valley Bioscience, of Santa Monica, CA

-Solaricare – made by Pharmacy Direct, Inc., of Dover, DE

-Sunergetic – made by Sunergized LLC, of Woodbury, NY”*

Per the cited source article, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made his point clearly and concisely with this statement: “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen.” And if there ever is, the FDA will officially let us all know.

Blanket of Insecurity

It’s human nature to believe that, if a product is widely available for sale, it must’ve been approved by some federal agency. But if that were true, you’d never see an (involuntarily) bald man anywhere.

If a person buys a fake watch on a city street, the most it costs him or her is some money lost with a free lesson thrown in. However, to trust your health to a useless medication can cost you your life.

Most people are inherently good, and as such can’t fathom that others might try to profit off risking their health. Unfortunately, those type of people, and companies, are out there. The good news is that today’s tech can work for us, too. Before entrusting your skin’s health (or any other area) to a seemingly magic bean, do some quick online research. Whatever the product, there are sure to be numerous reviews, opinions and/or facts posted about it.

If you’re tanning, either naturally like this person below, artificially (tanning beds), or even out in the sun at all, your best defense is properly applied (and frequently re-applied) sunscreen.





Spending a few minutes to verify health claims is the best investment you can possibly make.

*Source article and photo credit: American Council on Science and Health (

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Can UV Curing of Fingernail Gels Cause Melanoma?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Fortunately, efforts to increase public education on the disease by medical science, foundations and affected citizens (who today are all helped greatly by the power of social media) continue to raise awareness levels. However, there is still a long way to go; including myths to dispel and key areas of skin cancer education to focus on.

A Show of Hands

The primary source of harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays is the sun; but it’s not the only one as tanning beds are equally dangerous. More recently, another threat to our skin’s health has emerged. Many women have transitioned over from using traditional nail polish to gel polish. Gel polish is more resilient, while also offering a more appealing look than its predecessor can.

The health issue isn’t with the polish itself, but rather the method employed to cure (dry, set in place) it. Both the conventional and LED lamps most manicurists use to cure gel polish project a powerful blast of UVA radiation onto the nails and fingers. These rays can, have and will continue to cause melanoma both under nails and on the skin of the fingers that surrounds them.

The Power of Popularity

Often, a disease we’re aware of, but has not yet impacted us in some personal way, will simply exist on the outskirts of our consciousness. And it remains there until it either does personally affect us, or a celebrity brings it to our national attention.

The current Miss Illinois is 20-year old Karolina Jasko, who will be representing that state in the upcoming Miss USA Pageant. Jasko is selflessly using her public platform to make others aware of her plight. At 18, her doctor informed her that she had developed melanoma under one of her fingernails.

Karolina Jasko





Fingernail melanoma

She wants to make it known to as many people as she can reach that the curing process is probably to blame for her skin cancer, stating, “The doctor said I most likely got it from getting my nails done from the nail salon from getting acrylics from the light.”

Hers is an important message. Because while all melanoma education and awareness advocates have the same goal of educating the public, celebrity voices always resonate louder. Jasko’s efforts are commendable.


Covering Up

No matter how much new information on the dangers of any vice (tanning, smoking, etc.) are released publicly, there will always be people willing to take the associated risks. But there are ways to provide yourself with some protection if you opt to continue the unsafe practice of gel curing.

Use sunscreen or protective gloves (with open ends for nails) to at least protect the skin on the fingers from UV exposure during the curing process.

Additional source articles:,,,

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Is a Daily Aspirin Regimen a New Melanoma Risk for Men?

Aspirin, a derivative of tree bark, has in one form or another been used to reduce pain in people for millennia. More recently, medical science has learned of its ability to help prevent heart attacks and ward off some cancers. However, new research has revealed an awful side-effect for men who take aspirin on a regular basis.

While melanoma doesn’t discriminate based on gender, aspirin evidently does. A study referenced within the Oncology Nurse Advisor article cited below indicates that a consistent use of aspirin potentially doubles the odds of developing melanoma in the men who do so. The research also showed that the practice had no perceivable impact on women. While there are theories as to why that might be, nothing has yet been proven.

To obtain this information, “researchers accessed the Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse to evaluate the health outcomes of nearly 200,000 patients from metropolitan Chicago and the surrounding areas. Eligible patients were between the ages of 18 and 89, had no previous history of melanoma, and had follow-up data of at least 5 years after continuous once-daily aspirin use for 1 year or more. Of the study participants chronically exposed to aspirin, 26 (2.2%) of 1187 developed melanoma. Contrarily, of the nearly 194,000 patients in the study who did not take aspirin, only 1675 (0.86%) developed melanoma.”

A Slippery Slope

Although this new data may be alarming, if you’ve been advised to consume aspirin regularly, please continue to do so. If you have concerns, instead of stopping the medication you should discuss them directly with your dermatologist and doctor. Only a trained medical professional is qualified to determine the best course of action for his or her patient.

Regardless of what medication you’ve been prescribed (if any), it’s still vital to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays and to perform monthly skin self-examinations.

Additional source articles:,,,

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma