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Sun Protection Group Highlights 2009's Top Skin-saving Developments

Posted: December 30, 2009

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6. Don't fry day. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated the Friday before Memorial Day as "Don't Fry Day," encouraging everyone to practice sun safety habits at the traditional start of the summer. The National Council is a consortium of 45 organizations. Their members heavily promoted Don't Fry Day on Web sites, press releases and other materials. As a result the story appeared in dozens of newspapers and on television and radio.

7. NMA bi-monthly research calls. The National Melanoma Alliance (NMA) renewed its sponsorship of a bi-monthly research and advocacy teleconference call open to anyone with an interest in melanoma research. The hour-long teleconferences, begun in 2008, feature melanoma researchers from major institutions across the nation. Anyone is eligible to sign-up for the teleconference by filling out the form on the Alliance's website. In addition, the Alliance posts audios of previous calls, which are available for downloading.

8. New diagnostic technology. A new company pioneered an innovative new diagnostic technology that significantly reduces the time for patients to get feedback from dermatologists about suspicious skin lesions. The software is used to create a thorough patient profile, and it uses three types of extremely high-resolution digital imaging, which are then provided to a panel of dermatologists for review. Two reports are prepared, one for the patient and one for a designated physician. The technology is important because the average current wait time to see a dermatologist ranges from just over one month to four months in various areas of the United States and successful outcomes with of skin cancer rely upon prompt diagnosis and treatment. The new technology will return a report to the patient within 10 days, often sooner, and someone from the company will call if the technology detects anything suspicious.

9. The International Agency for Research on Cancer. Part of the World Health Organization, in June the agency concluded that individuals increase their risk of melanoma by 75% by using tanning beds and sunlamps before the age of 30. These findings prompted the agency to reclassify all radiation, including UVA, UVB and UVC as carcinogenic to humans. The finding sparked a worldwide debate on tanning bed usage, especially for minors, and has led to the consideration and adoption of new laws restricting their usage.

10. Teen and pre-teen education. Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, RN, MSN, executive director of the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation in Hingham, Massachusetts, was awarded a Gold Triangle from the American Academy of Dermatology for her books, Pretty Prom: Your Skin is Pretty Too and Lake Vacation. These books, aimed at educating teens and pre-teens about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, are especially relevant now in light of new research findings that show tanning beds are popular with significant numbers of teens and pre-teens.