May Wellness: Melanoma Awareness Month

This monthly employee newsletter, plus more resources, are available 24/7 to all of our Pathways Portal online program members.  Learn more about taking your entire wellness program and incentive reward system online: Pathways Portal Online Employee Wellness Management 


May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.

Unlike most other types of cancer, skin cancer rates are increasing. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma, basal cell, squamous cell and Merkel cell skin cancers have all been linked to ultraviolet radiation, according to the American Cancer Society®. In fact, more people develop skin cancer because of tanning than developing lung cancer because of smoking. The incidence rate of melanoma – a less common, but more deadly skin cancer – has doubled from 1982 to 2011. Ultraviolet radiation comes from sun exposure and indoor tanning.

The facts about ultraviolet radiation, sun exposure, and indoor tanning.

The information below on sun exposure and indoor tanning are available along with a comprehensive list of skin cancer facts and statistics on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website. For more information visit:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of agents that are cancer-causing to humans.  Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes and solar UV radiation.
  • As of September 2, 2014, ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices were reclassified by the FDA from Class I (low risk), to Class II (moderate risk) devices.
  • Twelve states plus the District of Columbia prohibit people younger than 18 from using indoor tanning devices: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont. Oregon and Washington prohibit those under 18 from using indoor tanning devices unless a prescription is provided.
    Brazil and Australia have banned indoor tanning altogether. Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18.
    More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas.
  • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than developing lung cancer because of smoking.
  • Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 67 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.
  • Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 69 percent risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40.
  • Individuals who have used tanning beds 10 or more times in their lives have a 34 percent increased risk of developing melanoma compared to those who have never used tanning beds.
  • People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet light is a risk factor for all types of skin cancer.
    • Avoiding this risk factor alone could prevent more than 3 million cases of skin cancer every year.
    • Research indicates that UV light from the sun and tanning beds can both cause melanoma and increase the risk of a benign mole progressing to melanoma.
  • Increasing intermittent sun exposure in childhood and during one’s lifetime is associated with an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
    • Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
    • Experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20 increases one’s melanoma risk by 80 percent and nonmelanoma skin cancer risk by 68 percent.   In 2010, new research found that daily sunscreen use cut the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in half.
    • People older than 65 may experience melanoma more frequently because of UV exposure they’ve received over the course of their lives.
    • Higher melanoma rates among men may be due in part to lower rates of sun protection.
  • Exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, especially in women 45 and younger.
    • Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.
    • In females 15 to 29 years old, the torso/trunk is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be due to high-risk tanning behaviors
    • Higher melanoma rates among young females compared to young males may be due in part to widespread use of indoor tanning among females.
  • Risk factors for all types of skin cancer include skin that burns easily; blond or red hair; a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns; tanning bed use; immune system-suppressing diseases or treatments; and a history of skin cancer.
    • People with more than 50 moles, atypical moles, or large moles are at an increased risk of developing melanoma, as are those with light skin and freckles, and those with a personal or family history of melanoma.
    • Melanoma survivors have an approximately nine-fold increased risk of developing another melanoma compared to the general population.
  • Men and women with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than people without a nonmelanoma skin cancer history.
    • Women with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing leukemia, breast, kidney and lung cancers, and men with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Men’s Skin Cancer Knowledge Lags Behind Women’s

Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, race or gender. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, when it comes to skin cancer prevention and detection, however, it seems that men need to brush up on their knowledge.

  • From ages 15-39, men are 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than women in the same age group?
  • From age 50 on, significantly more men develop melanoma than women?
  • The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 55?
Skin cancer – knowledge and melanoma estimates by gender
56% 76% Know there is no such thing as a healthy tan
54% 70% Know that getting a base tan is not a healthy way to protect your skin from the sun
56% 65% Know that skin cancer can occur on areas of the skin not typically exposed to the sun
52,170 34,940 Melanoma diagnoses – 2017 estimates
6,380 3,350 Melanoma deaths – 2017 U.S. estimates

Skin Cancer Foundation:

Did you know?

  • Insect Repellants reduce sunscreen’s SPF by up to 1/3? When using a combination, use a sunscreen with a higher SPF!
  • The UV Index forecast is issued each afternoon by the National Weather Service? Overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays can result in sunburns which increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag? Always choose sunglasses that are labeled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays. Some manufacturers’ labels will say “UV absorption up to 400nm.” This is the same thing as 100% UV absorption.
  • The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.? Seek the shade whenever possible.

Protect Yourself!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for protection from UV radiation:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

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Skin Cancer & Melanoma Information Sources

  • American Academy of Dermatology

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month Sponsor

  • SPOT Skin Cancer

American Academy of Dermatology

  • Skin Cancer

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Skin Care and Aging

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging

  • Skin Cancer

National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute

  • Protecting Yourself in the Sun

Occupational Health and Safety Administration

  • Sun Safety

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


American Academy of Dermatology: Its membership of 13,700 includes virtually all dermatologists in the US. It provides information and educational material on all aspects of melanoma, other skin cancers, and skin care. A “Find a Dermatologist” listing is offered on the website.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-866-503-SKIN Email:

American Cancer Society: A major information source. Gives support to patients, survivors and caregivers, including seniors and minors.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-ACS-2345

American Childhood Cancer Organization: A nationwide organization that offers support and advocacy to families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them. Informative books are provided free of charge to those with financial constraints.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-366-CCCF Email:

American Melanoma Foundation: Maintains a support group in San Diego, CA. Advises anyone wanting to start a support group. Gives information about melanoma from screening to staging, including clinical trials that patients may wish to join.

Web Site: Telephone:  858-882-7712 Email:

Cancer Care Inc.: A call to the toll-free Cancer Care Counseling Line leads patients, their families, and caregivers to support services in the caller’s area. Individual counseling can be obtained by calling the same number. Information for professionals is also available.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-813-HOPE Email:

Look Good…Feel Better:  This program teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients during and after chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-395-LOOK

Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America:  Health care professionals, parents of children with life-threatening illnesses, or the children themselves can apply. “I want to go. To be. To meet. To have.” Volunteers try to find ways to make these wishes come true free of charge.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-722-WISH Email: 

Melanoma International Foundation:  The phone number is a “patient navigation hotline” to help patients and their families gain a better understanding of the disease and where to go for treatment. Answers to questions and information are offered, mostly via e-mail, to people as far away as China.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-866-463-6663 Email: 

Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF): Presents a series of six symposia on diagnosis and treatment each year for patients, their families, and health care professionals, with an opportunity to consult physician presenters. Manages, a website enabling patients and others concerned about melanoma to share experiences.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-673-1290 Email:

National Cancer Institute (NCI): The US government’s source of information on the latest cancer treatments and clinical trials, as well as insurance, hospice, and home care. Callers to the toll-free number can be referred to community activities and support services. Spanish speakers are available.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-4-CANCER (422-6237) Email:

Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation: Dedicated to providing help and hope to underinsured patients who would otherwise be unable to afford high-cost specialty medications. PAN provides financial assistance through nearly 60 disease-specific programs designed to help patients being treated for certain chronic illnesses, rare diseases, and cancers.  Financial assistance supports the cost-sharing obligations (i.e., co-pays, deductibles) of patients. Since 2004, PAN has provided nearly $400 million in financial assistance to more than 200,000 patients. Two of PAN’s programs are for patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma and metastatic melanoma.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-866-316-7263

Patient Advocate Foundation: Serves as an active liaison between the patient and the insurer, employer, and/or creditors to ensure access to care, maintenance of employment, and reservation of financial stability. Case managers, doctors, and attorneys work through the Foundation.

Web Site: Telephone: 1-800-532-5274 Email: 




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Learn more about taking your entire wellness program and incentive reward system online: Pathways Portal Online Employee Wellness Management 

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Pathways to SmartCare is the Employee Wellness Program of American HealthCare Group, a preventive services firm in Pittsburgh, PA.  American HealthCare Group designs wellness programming for corporations, school districts, municipalities and other employers.

Pathways to SmartCare designs preventive services programs for employees.  We administer biometric health screenings, immunizations, Health Fairs, Lunch wellness events, on-site programming and more to our clients.

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