Skin Cancer Awareness Month is right around the corner. Celebrated in May, this is a great opportunity to spread awareness and education on skin cancer prevention and the importance of regular screenings. If you’re looking for ideal ways to educate and impact lives, simply incorporating skin cancer awareness messaging into your existing (or additional) marketing efforts can help. You can also increase awareness through events and other outreach efforts.
Early detection and prevention continue to be proven ways to reduce the prevalence of skin cancer in the United States. However, risk factors like indoor tanning continue to pose a threat. If including messages around melanoma and skin cancer prevention in your materials, consider:
Dangers of Indoor Tanning Education
- Now is a great time to highlight the benefits of avoiding risky behaviors or discuss the costs of engaging in risky behavior. Warnings about indoor tanning are most effective when they include graphic images and talk about the costs/negative impact that can result. Highlight that quitting indoor tanning will reduce skin damage. Be careful when addressing myths associated with tanning and present the preferred message clearly.
- Mention key people who would approve of your audience quitting indoor tanning, like parents, friends or romantic partners.
- Share data on true rates of indoor tanning, which are likely lower than people may believe and highlight. Address appearance concerns and psychological benefits associated with feeling more attractive. Highlight the short-term gains of quitting, like saving money.
Risk Factor Education
Many only consider sun protection when they’re at the beach or pool. Emphasize that sun exposure adds up daily and happens every time you are in the sun.
- Educate your audience about the possible signs and symptoms of melanoma, like the “ABCDE rule” (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving).
- Communicate information so it’s clear and easy to understand. Consider sharing genomic risk information about melanoma in an icon array format.
- Since genetics can increase someone’s risk for the disease, encourage your audience to know their family history, as this can be an important step in motivating behaviors to reduce risk.
Skin Cancer Screening Events
Along with targeted messaging, you may also consider holding a skin cancer screening event in your practice. One example is the Spot Me® free skin cancer screening program, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
The Spot Me campaign takes place each May and aims to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and advocacy to promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer. AAD members can participate in the event and hold free skin cancer screenings in their practices. Since its inception in 1985, dermatologists have conducted more than 2.8 million free skin cancer screenings with more than 278,000 suspicious lesions detected, and more than 31,500 suspected melanomas.
Medical personnel, including well-trained physician assistants and nurse practitioners, can screen under the direct supervision of a dermatologist. However, an AAD member MUST serve as the screening director and attend the screening. Many screenings are held between May through August. However, screenings can take place at any time during the year. The AAD reminds the public of the importance of year-round sun protection, so hosting a screening in the winter months is still appropriate.
Whether you participate in a Spot Me screening, hold your own screening event or create awareness using other methods, here are a few things to consider:
Pitch to your media. Skin cancer detection and prevention is important and sharing news releases on your involvement with this can be of interest to your local media. If you do hold a screening event or something similar at your practice, send a news release to your local media outlets sharing this info. You can do this prior to the screening event to generate interest and attendance and afterward, share a follow-up about the event. If you’re not holding an event, you can also pitch feature stories to your local newspapers, magazines or news websites. This can discuss the importance of cancer screenings, tips to avoid skin cancer, etc.
Seek out additional educational opportunities. There are many other things you can do to spread the word. In addition to pitching to your radio or TV outlets, suggest and take advantage of interview opportunities if they’re interested. You can go on to simply share information on skin cancer treatment or prevention or promote any events you’re having in conjunction. If you have educational materials in your office, highlight the skin cancer-focused items during May. The same goes for your website. If you have this information already on your site, look for ways to highlight it more. You can also link back to the AAD’s activity pages for more info.
Get social. Your social media pages are a great, accessible way to share a variety of continued messages about skin cancer during this campaign, whether simple posts, infographics or videos.
You can find full information on the Spot me program, including guidelines, event tips and more here online. If you’re a member of the AAD, you can log in to your account and find additional resources, educational material, talking points, etc.
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