SunWise Program Summary
Skin cancer facts
- The American Cancer Society estimates that 68,130 Americans will develop melanoma, and 8,700 will die from the disease this year. (1)
- Nearly half of all cancers in the U.S. are skin cancers. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. (2)
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than two million cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. (2)
- The number of people with the most often deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is rising at an alarming rate. It is projected that one in 58 people born in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma (3)—that's about 20 times higher than it was for people born in 1930. (4)
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the number-one preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Taking simple steps now to prevent overexposure lowers one’s risk.
- In a majority of studies, researchers have found a positive relationship between childhood sunburns and the subsequent increased risk of melanoma. (5)
You can make a difference! Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun during youth puts children at an increased lifetime risk for skin cancer. One or two blistering sunburns in childhood may double the lifetime risk of developing melanoma. Overexposure to the sun can also lead to eye damage and immune system suppression. By educating ourselves and our children about UV-related health effects and the steps for sun protection, we can ensure a healthy future for the next generation.
SunWise, a free health and environmental education program, was developed with the needs of schools and educators in mind. Schools receive free materials that facilitate cross-curricular classroom learning including:
- Lesson plans and fun activities
- UV Index measurement and reporting
- Suggestions for shade structures (e.g., canopies, trees)
- Suggestions for developing policies that promote sun protection (e.g., using hats, sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Ideas for school-based sun safety activities (e.g., school assemblies)
- Student and teacher SunWise evaluations
- Suggestions for community partnerships (e.g. guest speakers and business partnerships)
The time commitment necessary to implement SunWise is minimal, while the potential payoff in lower skin cancer rates - and other health benefits in the future - is high.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Available at www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/acspc-024113.pdf (PDF). (68 pp, 1.50MB, About PDF )
- American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer Facts. Available at www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/SunandUVExposure/skin-cancer-facts .
- American Academy of Dermatology. Skin Cancer Fact Sheet. Available at www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_skincancer.html .
- Rigel, Darrell, Robert J. Friedman, M.D., Alfred W. Kopf, M.D. 1996. The Incidence of Malignant Melanoma in the United States: Issues as We Approach the 21st Century . Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 34(5), 839-847. May 1996.
- Oliveria, S.A., M Saraiya, A.C. Geller, M.K. Heneghan, C. Jorgensen. 2006. Sun Exposure and Risk of Melanoma . Archives of Disease in Childhood 91:131–138. doi: 10.1136/adc.2005.086918.