Dog-gone Wow! Canines Can Smell Skin Cancer, Melanoma

It has often been said that dogs are Man’s Best Friend. But the truth is that, within the world of medicine, they’re everyone’s best friend.

The Sweet Smell of Success

There have been, and continue to be, many research studies and documented accounts on dogs who were/are able to smell skin cancer and melanoma on their owners and cancer patients.

And with their owners they’ll not only sniff it out, they’ll then continually pester them until they go and have it checked out by a dermatologist. Not a bad return on some affectionate petting and a few Scooby Snacks.

This ability, known medically as “canine olfactory detection” can also be positively manipulated by training dogs to detect other cancers such as of the lung, breast and prostate, to name just a few. It truly is amazing that, no matter how fast the technical achievements of medical science improve and evolve, Mother Nature still reigns supreme.

Scents and Scents-ability

Dogs possess over 200 million more smell-receptor cells than that of their human counterparts. This includes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as dimethydisulfide and isoamyl alcohol.

Those two VOCs are released from melanomas at all stages and have been verified by high-sensitivity instruments. As a result, this incredible ability that is impossible for humans to perform, is routine for canines.

Meet Claire (a British animal behavioral psychologist) and Daisy, the pet dog who saved her life. (Photo credit: DailyMail.com)

Odor Eaters

Dogs can detect cancer by sniffing urine, breath, and skin among other items. A patient doesn’t even have to be present. He or she need only provide a medical sample that can later be presented to a trained dog for olfactory inspection.

It’s Only Common Scents

Of course, it’s both impractical and expensive to train thousands of dogs to sniff out various illnesses, particularly within hospital/medical office settings. However, they are integral in helping medical science continue to progress on the creation of artificial scent-receptors that will have capabilities similar to those of their canine counterparts.

It makes sense, really. We’ve had CAT scans for years; it’s about time dog scans had their turn.

Reality Bites

While this is all excellent news, it’s important to keep in mind that many people don’t own dogs. And it’s unwise for those who do to now think, “Rover hasn’t focused his attention on any particular area recently, so I must be cancer-free.”

It is vital to take a quick 10 minutes each month to continue to performing your skin self-exams. They’re far more reliable at detecting melanoma than depending on Fido to be your primary oncological diagnostician.

*Additional source articles: DogsNaturallyMagazine.com, SiriusDog.com, ScientificAmerican, Daily Mail (United Kingdom), NCBI

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Atypical Moles vs. Melanoma

In one of our previous, similar posts, ‘Normal Moles vs. Atypical Moles’, we discussed that titular subject. In today’s post, our focus will be on comparing atypical moles with melanoma.

What are Atypical Moles?

Many people know that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. But what are atypical moles? Are they cancerous?

Atypical moles (known in medical terms as dysplastic nevi) are similar to common moles in that melanoma usually does not develop in either. However, as we’ll expand on below, their presence is an indicator of an increased melanoma risk in general.

Atypical moles are usually larger than common moles, as well as differing in color (ranging from pink to dark-brown), shape (often irregular), and border with surrounding skin (often fuzzy).

While common moles are generally round or oval, atypicals may look more like a picture from a Rorschach inkblot test.

These 3 photos are different examples of atypical moles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn and Face the Change

David Bowie’s hit song also provides us with some excellent skin care advice. Atypical moles are rarely removed because the procedure isn’t necessary. Nor would excision reduce the risk of converting them to melanoma by very much. However…

If you notice any change in an atypical mole (or in any mole, for that matter) during one of your highly-recommend monthly skin self-exams, it’s important to have it checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible. That means any change, including in size, color, texture, shape, or height. Also, if it turns hard/lumpy, or begins bleeding, itching or oozing.

Just the FAQ’s, Ma’am (or Sir), Just the FAQ’s

Here are a few other things you should know about atypical moles:

  • The risk of melanoma increases 10-fold in people who have 5 or more atypical moles. Although it usually arises in clear skin rather than in an atypical mole. Atypical moles serve as markers for melanoma risk.
  • The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimates that 2-8% of the current U.S. population has atypical moles
  • No matter what an atypical mole looks like, judging it to be benign or malignant just on its’ appearance is an unreliable method of determining if melanoma is present. Even a trained dermatologist can’t make that determination just by viewing it. The only way to ensure a correct diagnosis is through a biopsy followed by a pathological examination
  • As with any other moles or skin cancers, atypicals can appear anywhere on the skin. This includes under the hair (scalp) and areas of skin that rarely, if ever, see the light of day
  • People with an abnormal number of moles, atypical or otherwise, should be even more careful about exposure to the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. Exposing moles to UV radiation, whether from the sun or tanning lamps, is dangerous.

Severely atypical moles, such as the one on the left, are even more challenging to distinguish from melanomas. The right image was a melanoma. As a result, dermatologists generally treat severely atypical moles the same way as melanomas.

*Additional source articles: Ncbi.gov, Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi and Risk of Melanoma

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Lives or More

It’s great hearing that we may be able to save some money by switching car insurance companies. But how much greater would it be to take those same 15 minutes and, with very little effort, save lives?

Hands Across America

Since 1999, the non-profit public charity Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) has worked tirelessly to educate teens about the dangers of skin cancers, as well as how to avoid them. Part of that education includes getting our free, highly-effective Melanoma Lessons into the hands of as many of our nation’s health teachers as possible.

The numbers speak for themselves. At last count, our lessons were being taught to students in over 1,700 middle and high schools across the United States. This skin cancer education has saved the lives of students, their teachers, and their friends and family. How? Because the teachers learn health information they weren’t aware of, and the students spread what they’ve learned to the people in their lives.

The goals of our mission are two-fold: teach teens how to look for and report any potential skin cancer, and teach them how they can protect themselves from getting it in the first place.

And you can help us to help them.

Volunteer to Make a Difference

We’d like to provide some information on each of the 3 ways you can help further the cause of melanoma education with us.

(Please note: Students who participate in any of the following opportunities will receive community service verification letters from the MEF for their project hours. Also, HOSA is an acronym for Health Occupation Students of America. To learn about these 3 volunteering opportunities in greater detail, please click here: VolunteerMatch).

Volunteer Opportunity 1

Share information about a one-page downloadable document on early self-detection of melanoma through social media.

(To read this highly-informative life-saving document, please click here: See Spot…Health Alert for Teens). Although originally targeted for teens it applies to adults as well.

This is available to volunteers of all ages.

Its Purpose:

Social media is an incredible tool in the battle against skin cancer that wasn’t even available at all a generation ago. The ability to reach a massive number of people over its various platforms allows melanoma education to get around the world in ways that, until recently, just weren’t available.

And few people have mastered its use more proficiently than the group in the exact age range the MEF’s Lessons were created for. That is a huge win-win for melanoma education not only in America, but all over the globe.

Volunteer Opportunity 2

Teaching other students at middle and high schools, that are not currently using the MEF Melanoma Lessons, about melanoma self-detection.

This opportunity is open to high school students and community college student volunteers.

Its Purpose:

To get students to educate other students in their schools about self-detection and risk-reduction of melanoma. This is done with minimal effort through showing those students a short 16-minute video, which we will provide to the volunteer.

Volunteer Opportunity 3

Obtaining public contact information on health teachers and HOSA faculty advisers from school websites.

This is available to people who:

  • Are 14 or older
  • Have a laptop, PC or tablet with either Microsoft XL or Mac Numbers installed

This can be done from anywhere at any time and involves no selling, phone calls or fundraising.

Its Purpose:

To allow the MEF to reach out to health teachers regarding our Melanoma Lessons. Every new educator who uses them equals more lives saved.

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Melanoma Questions: A True or False Quiz

We know that taking a quiz was rarely an eagerly anticipated moment during your years in school. However, this one’s different. There’s absolutely no way to fail. Even if you guess incorrectly on a question(s), you’ll still come out way ahead by having educated yourself about melanoma.

Melanoma is a potentially lethal, but mostly preventable, disease. The more you learn, the better you’ll become at protecting your skin and keeping it healthy.

Some responses contain links to other relevant blog posts. This allows us to provide more valuable information within this post in an easily accessible fashion.

Melanoma Quiz

True or False? (Please scroll down for the answers)

  1. Melanoma incidence within the U.S. is decreasing.
  2. For the most part, melanoma strikes males and females equally.
  3. While a melanoma is still in a curable stage, keeping a lookout for the ABCDE warning signs is all that you need to do.
  4. Sun safety lessons for teens help to cause behavioral changes that decrease their risk of melanoma, and other skin cancers.
  5. Using a high-SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen can significantly reduce a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
  6. If you find a suspicious growth during your monthly skin self-exam, you can usually get a dermatologist appointment quickly.
  7. Taking a Vitamin D supplement is an effective alternative to sun exposure to ensure that your Vitamin D level is sufficient.
  8. Melanoma seldom develops within infants, toddlers, and pre-teens.
  9. The incidence of melanoma is higher in the sunbelt states than it is in most northern states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer Key:

  1. False. The American Cancer Society projected 161,790 new melanoma cases in 2017. For 2018, the ACS projection has increased to 178,560.
  2. False. Until the age of 50, a greater number of females develop invasive melanoma. However, from cradle-to-grave, the rate is 53% higher in males. It is strongly believed throughout the medical community that tanning beds are partially responsible for the higher prevalence of the disease among young women.
  3. False. It’s just as important to check for the EFG signs of nodular melanoma.

(Note: ABCDE = ‘Asymmetrical’, ‘Border’, ‘Color’, ‘Diameter’ and ‘Evolving’. EFG = ‘Elevated’, ‘Firm’ and ‘Growing’)

  1. False. Numerous studies have revealed that sun-safety lessons are ineffective at getting teens to change their behavior patterns. They’re tedious, uninteresting, and teens simply ignore them.
  2. False. (Mostly). 99% of sunscreen users only apply 25-50% of the amount needed to achieve the rated SPF. With a 100 SPF sunscreen the true SPF values are 3.1 and 10, respectively.
  3. True. Because the speed of diagnosis and treatment of melanoma is essential, it’s imperative to have suspicious growths checked out as quickly as possible. There are several avenues that people can take to get themselves seen by a dermatologist in short order. To learn more about the different options that are available, please click HERE.
  4. True. Please click HERE to learn why.
  5. True. (Mostly). Please click HERE to learn why.
  6. False. Most northern states have a greater incidence of melanoma. The high-risk factor of intermittent sun exposure, and the widespread mistaken belief that cloud cover and precipitation offer adequate UV (ultraviolet) ray protection, are believed to be two big reasons for this.

So, how did you do? Don’t worry, whatever your score was you’ve earned an A+ today.

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Save Lives from Melanoma by Running the New York City Marathon

The Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) is proud to be entering our 8th straight year as an official charity partner of the New York Road Runners Association (NYRR).

In 2017, the prestigious New York City Marathon was also the world’s largest. The tremendous amount of overall participation, national interest and substantial media coverage will once again combine to make the NYC Marathon an excellent platform from which to showcase our melanoma skin cancer education programs.

(2017 NYC Marathon)

 

 

 

 

Admission Accomplished

There are only 3 ways to enter the 2018 marathon. Be an elite runner, win a spot in the lottery that was held on February 28th, or run to support a charity. If you’re pinning your hopes to your name being drawn, you may have a better chance to win the actual lottery. Only 17% of applicants will find February 28th to be their lucky day. That is where we come in.

Run for the Money

We’re a non-profit organization whose only concern; only reason for existence, is to educate people as much as possible about melanoma until the inevitable day when medical science learns how to destroy it.

At just $2,500, in 2018 NYRR has set the lowest minimum contribution requirement to enter the NYC Marathon. Additionally, MEF itself will pay the $295 entry fee for each runner; a deal unmatched by few other charities, if any.

Tangible Results

Very often, good people who perform some action, or donate money for charity, are left with no idea about whether what they’ve done has had any impact. This picture is proof positive that contributions have made a world of difference:

 

 

 

 

Middle school student Adrianna (on left), and high school student Mary (on right), are both alive today because they found melanomas early enough to save their lives after their schools presented our MEF lessons to them. Contributions made by NYC Marathon runners helped make results like this possible.

These runners, and all of those who’ve contributed, and continue to contribute going forward, have done their parts to help save countless young lives. And not only their lives, but those of teachers, friends and family who they’ve helped to teach what to look for. Sooner or later, skin cancer education will put melanoma down for the count. And not a moment too soon.

For more information, and application details, please visit this Link.To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Window Pain: A Clear Connection to Melanoma

Most people wouldn’t even think of driving their cars without first buckling their seat-belts, and with good reason. They’re an excellent precaution to take and continue to save countless lives. But wearing seat-belts isn’t the only thing we need to do to protect ourselves while on the roads.

What’s Out of Sight, Still Keep in Mind

We see daily reminders, in the form of accidents, of why following the traffic laws is so important to our safety. But we don’t see UV (ultraviolet) rays. Unprotected exposure to UV rays while driving can cause skin damage and melanoma, which can eventually lead to the same unfortunate result as a fatal car wreck. Just not quite as quickly.

Glass Half-Empty

Thanks to the added plastic layer that keeps them from shattering, windshields offer protection against the effects of UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, aside from higher-end vehicles such as those built by Lexus and Mercedes, that’s not the case with rear and side windows. They block UVB rays, but still allow enough UVA rays in to damage our skin. And while window tints are useful at helping to preserve a driver’s anonymity, they’re useless at increasing UVA protection.

Sunshine on Your Shoulder Won’t Make You Happy

With apologies to the late John Denver, the sunlight that penetrates insufficiently-protected car windows can do real damage to the skin of an exposed shoulder. And more frequently to the left side of a driver’s face, as it’s rarely (if ever) covered up.

Glass is Now in Session

Researchers have learned that, while both genders are affected by skin cancers and melanomas on the left side of their faces, the occurrences are more frequent in male drivers. This may in part be due to women being more attentive to their faces regarding sunscreen and sunscreen-infused cosmetics.

Glass, Dismissed

A simple Google or Amazon search will yield numerous low-cost plastic UVA-blocking films that can easily be installed on either car or home window glass. Purchasing both types will provide optimum protection.

Now See Here

Nearly all plastic lenses within prescription eyeglasses protect completely against both UVB and UVA rays. The UV coatings often pitched by opticians are unnecessary. The only exception is CR39 lenses. They’ll protect you against UVA rays, but still allow 10% transmission of UVB. Adding clip-on sunglasses over prescription glasses with plastic lenses won’t offer you any significant UVA protection. However, wrap-around sunglasses will protect more skin around your eyes.

An Awesome Spectacle

There is no reason to empty your wallet on a high-cost pair of protective shades. Any non-prescription plastic-lens sunglasses labelled either “100% UV Protective” or “UV 400”, will provide you with complete protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

You can find a good variety of these sunglasses for as little as one buck at any dollar store, or $5-$10 at most discount “Big Box” retailers. You’ll look great while keeping your eyes safe. And if you lose the pair you can easily replace them for pocket change.

The Greenhouse Effect

If you plan on building a greenhouse on your property, choose clear polyethylene sheeting instead of glass. The former contains UV absorbing additives that will protect all occupants against both UVA and UVB rays.

*Additional information source articles: Jamanetwork.com, Eyeglass lens materials.docx, UV Exposure Thru Car Windows.docx

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Melanoma Myths

Some myths can be fun or interesting. Who hasn’t wondered if there really is a living dinosaur concealed beneath the cold waves of Scotland’s Loch Ness? Or if some supernatural force is responsible for the disappearances of numerous ships and planes that were travelling across the infamous Bermuda Triangle?

Myths about health and disease, however, are a whole different ballgame. Believing the wrong ones can lead to injury, sickness and even death.

Melanoma is a potentially fatal disease that can, nevertheless, be either prevented or cured by people who know and abide by the facts. In this blog we present 8 common melanoma myths, followed by the actual truth behind each one.

We urge you to save this vital information for yourself, and to post it on your social media platforms.

MYTH:

It’s just a skin cancer, something small on your skin can’t kill you.

FACT:

Yes, it can. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) predicts that over 13,000 Americans will be killed by some form of skin cancer in 2018. That averages out to more than 1 American death every hour of every day. Size doesn’t matter.

MYTH:

By the time you know you have it it’s too late.

FACT:

This assumption can easily cost someone his or her life. While it’s true that melanoma can be fatal, it’s the timing of the diagnosis and treatment that determines the ultimate outcome. If caught early enough, melanoma has nearly a 100% cure rate. The mortality risk continues to rise with the passage of time. Which is why suspicious skin growths must be examined by a dermatologist without delay.

MYTH:

Melanomas are always black.

FACT:

No, they’re not. Melanomas can be black. But they can also be blue-black, dark brown, brown-red, red, pink, grey, flesh-tone, or light to medium brown. Click here to read more facts about the two main types of the disease, nodular and radial, in greater detail.

MYTH:

If you get melanoma you need radiation and chemo to treat it.

FACT:

A melanoma diagnosis is confirmed after a pathologist examines the excised mole or other skin growth. The excision (which includes a small amount of the surrounding healthy tissue) usually takes place in-office. If the malignancy is caught early enough, the excision itself is usually the cure. If it has gone beyond that, dermatologists have numerous treatment options at their disposal. They will employ the treatment that best suits a given patient’s condition. Chemo and radiation are generally ineffective against melanoma.

MYTH:

Teens and children don’t get melanoma.

FACT:

Melanoma can develop at any time, from the day we’re born until the day we die. This is an equal opportunity disease that plays no favorites. It doesn’t care about age, gender, color or race. Parents and guardians have a responsibility to educate and protect their children from skin cancer, and step one is learning the truth. It’s difficult to imagine anything in life worse than a terminally ill child. Click on the link to read the facts about childhood melanoma.

MYTH:

Your primary care doctor can tell you if you have melanoma.

FACT:

General practitioners usually lack sufficient training to accurately determine what’s actually melanoma, and what is merely a benign growth or a melanoma mimic. Even a trained dermatologist can’t always tell if a suspicious skin growth is cancerous just by looking. The difference, however, if he or she has the experience, diagnostic technology and resources that a GP does not.

MYTH:

It takes months to get an appointment with a dermatologist.

FACT:

While it’s true that many dermatologist appointments are scheduled a few months in advance, they can be expedited when a patient detects something suspicious on his or her skin. In such cases call your dermatologist, tell him or her that you have a growth that looks like a photo of a melanoma, and request to receive any open time slot he or she may have. Or any opening due to a cancellation. If after a week you haven’t been seen, there are other options. You can learn more about them through this link.

MYTH:

Sunscreen with a high SPF will protect you from skin cancer and melanoma.

FACT:

It depends. In order to receive the full SPF (Sun protection factor) effect, the sunscreen must be applied correctly. The typical person uses only 25% of what’s needed to obtain that full effect. An SPF 100 sunscreen applied at 25% has an effective SPF of only 3.1. If you are in a swimsuit, you need to apply an amount equivalent to a full shot glass (more for larger/taller people). Every inch of exposed skin should be evenly covered, and it should be re-applied every 2 hours at minimum. Even sooner if you have been swimming or sweating.

MYTH:

Getting a base tan before going on vacation to a warm sunny country or state will protect you from skin cancer.  

FACT:

Getting a base tan to protect against skin cancer is like eating doughnuts to avoid obesity. This is one of the more egregious skin cancer myths out there, and it needs to be quickly put to rest. Any unprotected sun exposure, either natural or artificial, can cause skin damage, skin cancer and/or melanoma.

When the subject is melanoma, it’s just the facts, ma’am (and sir). Just the facts.

*Additional information source articles: AAD, BBC.com

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Occupational Risk of Melanoma

It’s likely that you have heard about some of the more highlighted workplace-related cancers. For example, the famously reported connection between asbestos, (a material at one time used in buildings and warehouses as a fire retardant) and lung cancer. But we rarely hear of any connections between specific vocations and melanoma. Such relationships do exist, and within this post we’ll address some of them.

Firefighters 

Members of “The Bravest” profession are unsung heroes. They routinely put their lives at stake to save the lives of others. Unfortunately, the dangers they face don’t come exclusively from smoke and the flames they work so hard to extinguish.

The amount of heat that some fires are capable of generating is massive. When that heat consumes wood, plastics, polymers and oil-based products they release dangerous carcinogens. These include, (though are not limited to) soot, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. Exposure to these chemicals increase the risk of melanoma in firefighters by 30-45%.

Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Airline Pilots and Flight Crews

Many of the millions of automobile drivers within the U.S. don’t think about how much we’re affected by the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays while driving the nation’s roadways. (Auto glass is easily breached by UVA rays, which is why sunscreen should always be applied prior to lengthy drives).

It’s not much different for airline pilots and flight crews. Research studies reveal that while aircraft windows block over 99% of UVB rays, they can allow 50% of UVA rays to penetrate. As a result, flight crews have around twice the risk of non-flight-based individuals. In fact, “Pilots flying for 56.6 minutes at 30 000 feet receive the same amount of UV-A carcinogenic effective radiation as that from a 20-minute tanning bed session.”*

For those who may be unaware, “zero” is always the correct answer to the question of how many minutes anyone should ever spend in a tanning bed.

If you’re a passenger who has booked a coveted window seat, it’s advisable to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen prior to departure and bring extra with you. Many “dollar” stores sell miniature tubes, which are perfect for air travel.

Welders, Cooks and Ocular Melanoma

While nothing has yet been definitively proven, studies have shown that there may be a link between occupational cooking, welding and ocular melanoma. The relevant source article cited below provides these specific causes regarding the former:

“During the cooking, workers may expose to many cooking fumes, high radiation from microwaves, strong light from incandescent ovens, and infrared radiation…”

About the latter, the flame of a welder’s torch emits its’ own UV rays. Welders also endure a higher risk for traditional melanoma, other skin cancers and skin damage in general. Particularly when the trade’s protective suit, or parts of it such as gloves, are not worn while welding.

The Leather, Brewing and Printing Industries

Leather workers, such as those who produce shoes, are exposed to the dangerous chemicals required to complete the tanning process. (Leather tanning, not sun tanning). Workers in the printing and brewing (and malt-processing) industries are likewise exposed to carcinogens specific to their trades.

It is of significant importance for employees working in these vocations to follow the safety regulations of their companies to the letter, along with the laws of common sense.

*Additional information source articles: Firefighter Cancer, Firefighters, Airplane Pilots and Crew (A), Airplane Pilots and Crew (B), Airplane Pilots and Crew (C), Welders, Cooks and Ocular Melanoma, Swedish Study on Shoes, Breweries and Printing, SkinCancerOnly.com

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Melanoma Potpourri

There is always something new to learn about melanoma, and skin cancer in general. Through this blog, we’re able to continually reach countless people with these updates and contribute to the public’s education on the subject.

We also know that it’s important to occasionally look back and help refresh memories on the basics of this disease. That’s what we’ve done here today.

Of course, we can’t fit every bit of data into a single blog post. So, we’ve focused on a few of the most important melanoma subtopics. We’re presenting this in easy-to-read bullet point form with the hope that readers will bookmark this post for easily-repeatable access.

For those who are interested in more in-depth information on a given post, each bold headline is also a clickable link directly back to the original article on its topic.

Nodular Melanoma

  • Most dangerous of the two main types of melanoma (Radial is the other)
  • Typically presents initially on previously unblemished skin
  • Often dome-shaped
  • Can be multiple colors, though usually black, blue-black, dark brown or brown-red
  • Unlike most skin cancers, begins its development beneath the skin’s surface
  • Constitutes about 20% in adults, but 40%-60% in teens, pre-teens and adolescents

Amount of Sunscreen Applied vs. SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

  • Sunscreen is an excellent skin-protector, but only if applied and re-applied correctly
  • Most sunscreen users apply only 25% of the amount needed to enjoy its full protective impact
  • Minimum amount to apply if wearing a bathing suit would fill a shot glass
  • A sufficient amount of sunscreen must be applied evenly over all sun-exposed skin to achieve maximum effectiveness
  • Sunscreen must be re-applied every two hours at minimum. More frequently if the wearer has been swimming and/or sweating

Melanoma in Children

  • Anyone can develop melanoma from the day he or she is born
  • Up to 10 years old, melanoma is frequently red; though it can present as pink or flesh-colored
  • Melanoma in 11-18-year-olds is similar in appearance to melanoma in adults
  • Infants should be completely protected from the sun until they’re at least 6 months old

The Melanoma Education Foundation’s (MEF) Skin Cancer Lessons

  • Focus is on helping middle and high school health educators correctly teach their students about melanoma detection and prevention
  • Research data reveals these lessons are extremely effective
  • Taught in over 1,700 schools in all 50 states
  • Brief and to the point to accommodate the short attention spans of young people
  • More effective than sun safety-based lessons
  • To learn more, teachers and parents may watch this 3-minute long introductory video. Afterward, teachers can register for totally free access to the lesson-videos and other free resources.

Self-examining for Early Signs of Melanoma

  • Highly-effective tool for use in early melanoma detection
  • Most patients discover their own melanoma before their doctors do
  • Unless there’s something visually obvious or the subject is broached to them, most doctors don’t even bother checking for skin cancer during routine appointments
  • 30% of melanomas develop on skin that is rarely exposed to the sun
  • Once a month, check your entire body for suspicious or changing moles and skin growths. Including under the hair.
  • Employ mirrors and/or a significant other/good friend to assist checking areas you cannot see
  • Ask hair stylists and tattoo artists to alert you if they come across any suspicious-looking growths
  • If caught early enough, melanoma’s cure rate is nearly 100%. If allowed to develop untreated, with enough time it will nearly always become fatal. Early detection is paramount.

More Tanning Salons Ignoring State Laws

  • About 40% of tanning salons ignore state laws, and very often get away with doing so
  • Tanning leads to a massive increase in the odds of developing skin cancer; especially in young women, who frequent these salons more than any other age and gender demographic
  • More skin cancer is caused by tanning beds than lung cancer is caused by smoking

We encourage you to read any of the wide variety of previous posts on our blog, along with our weekly new posts. You my also click on our two websites below for more good information on this horrible, yet mostly preventable, disease.

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

All Skin Cancer Lessons are not Created Equal

When trying to educate adolescents and teens about skin cancer, it’s very important that the information presented is not only correct, but also properly focused. Words that fall on primarily deaf ears are useless; rendering the material ineffective.

How do We Know?

The Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) was founded by its president Stephen Fine in 1999, one year after his 26-year old son Daniel tragically passed away from the disease. From that day to this, Steve and the MEF have studied the most beneficial ways to get teens to absorb critical information on melanoma.

We learned long ago that concentrating on education is more impactful than research. Catching skin cancer early or preventing it before it has a chance to get started is preferable to trying to cure it long after it develops.

An excellent way to achieve that goal is give middle and high school health educators free, simple access to accurate, easily teachable information. To that end, we’ve created melanoma lessons for teachers to present to their students.

The attention span of teens has never been shorter, and few have the patience to listen intently to a long-winded monologue on a disease. That’s why it’s vital to speak to them in their own language, and make the lessons brief and easily digestible.

Our lessons were created based on the data gathered from teen focus groups. Our videos feature teens talking about their firsthand experiences directly to other teens. The MEF’s free The Melanoma Lessons are being taught in over 1,700 schools all across the United States. We know how much they’re working, too.

We’ve received hundreds of accounts and positive survey responses of melanoma being stopped dead in its tracks due to our lessons. And not only in the students themselves, but within their families. Some health educators have even saved their own lives by virtue of having information on melanoma about which they were previously unaware.

Why Are Our Melanoma Lessons More Effective than Others?

There are multiple reasons why our lessons are so successful.

  • Extensive research has revealed that sun safety-based skin cancer lessons are unsuccessful in getting teens to change their behaviors toward UV (ultraviolet) ray exposure.
  • Other teen skin cancer and video textbook lessons provide inadequate information on melanoma in general and none on nodular, the most lethal form of melanoma that disproportionately strikes teens, pre-teens and adolescents.
  • Most skin cancer lessons overstate the importance of SPF (Sun Protection Factor), which is much less important than how much sunscreen is applied. More than 99% of sunscreen users apply far too little to achieve rated SPF values.

To Both Teachers and Parents

If you’re a teacher, do your skin cancer lessons (if any are even on the itinerary) address these issues?

If you’re a parent, are you aware of what, if anything, your teens are being taught about melanoma in school?

If the answers are “no”, we invite you to take just a few brief moments to view this award-winning, 3-minute long introductory video.

After watching the video, teachers may register to access the completely free teen melanoma lessons that have been described as the most effective on the planet.

For Steve it’s personal, and he has worked nonstop to do everything possible to spare people from the pain he and so many others have endured at the hands of this horrific and unnecessary scourge. Please, help us to help you.

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma