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Skin Cancer Awareness Month Is the Time to Take Preventable Actions

May 9, 2018

The month of May is "Skin Cancer Awareness Month". Here at Associates in Dermatology, our doctors, nurses and physician assistants are encouraging all of the families living in our Central Florida communities to raise awareness about the most preventable forms of cancer. With over five million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, it is important for you to lower your skin cancer risk by avoiding unnecessary exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays, like indoor tanning booths, as well as protecting exposed areas of skin from the sun's harmful rays when you are outdoors. Living in the Sunshine State and enjoying the warm Florida weather has many advantages, but the death rate among residents in the state over the age of 50 has more than doubled over the past forty years.

Sun Safety Awareness Is Cause for Concern Among All Family Members

Did you know that the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays could damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes?

That is all the time that it takes, and it may be as long as twelve hours before you fully recognize the affect after the exposure. Since it is the UV rays and not the temperature that causes the skin damage, it is equally as important to protect exposed skin even on cooler or cloudy days. Moreover, it is important that you understand that tanned skin is not healthy skin, but damaged skin. After time outside, any change of skin color, whether its golden brown or beet red, is indicative of UV-related skin damage.

Did you know that young people born in the last decade are nearly 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than children born in 1930?

Ultraviolet light is a known human carcinogen and taking preventable steps early in life to protect exposed skin from harmful UV rays reduces a child's risk of melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the second most common skin cancer for adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years old. According to research provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), education and policy approaches in primary schools for children can improve his or her sun safety behaviors for a lifetime of protection.

Do you know the steps that you can take to help educate and better protect children in your community?

Since we now know that UV-related health effects are largely preventable, it is crucial to teach children (and adults) how instituting sun-protection practices can help reduce his or her risk of skin cancer. Listed below are three resources offering free educational materials:

  • Sun Smart U - The Skin Cancer Foundation provides FREE materials to educators through Sun Smart U's Rays Awareness - Skin Cancer Prevention downloadable training programs. Two 40-minute lessons are provided to teach young people (grades 6-8 and 9-12) about protecting themselves from UV radiation from the sun and indoor tanning beds as well as how to make sun-safe choices that are vital to preventing skin cancer.
  • Associates in Dermatology Sun Smart Practices - Since we know that UV Health issues are largely preventable, Associates in 15 Central Florida Locations have been reaching out to local schools and teachers providing them with information to download and share with students.
    1. Booklet for Teachers -  Sun Smart Practices for Your Students
    2. Handout for Students - Play It Safe in the Sun

    Both flyers were developed working with The Skin Cancer Foundation to help young people and adults explore, assess, and understand their environment as well as the sun safety factors that can affect good skin health now and for the rest of their life.

  • SunWise Program - According to the National Environment Education Foundation's sun safety program, educators, parents and caregivers can play a major role by serving as a role model for sun safe behaviors. In addition, SunWise provides a FREE tool kit with environmental and education programs to teach K-8 children about the importance of sun safety.

Have you or a family member been affected by skin cancer?

The Skin Cancer Foundation is encouraging anyone affected by skin cancer to share his or her story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the month of May. You are asked to connect with family, friends, colleagues and the Skin Cancer Foundation by including the hashtag #MySkinCancerJourney in your post. This will help others receive accurate sun safety information and help create a powerful community of healthy skin champions.

Do You Know the ABCDEs of Melanoma?

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and early detection is the key to potentially life-saving treatment of the disease. Unlike many other forms of cancer, melanoma can often be seen on the skin making it much easier to detect. Although having moles can be a risk factor for melanoma, it is important to remember that most moles never become cancerous. However, self-conducted skin exams as well as routine examinations by a skincare doctor are both needed to ensure an early diagnosis.

Visit the Associates in Dermatology website's Skin Cancer Warning Signs page for our pictorial ABCDEs of Melanoma to learn more...

Research studies suggest that as many as 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet rays from either natural (sunlight) or artificial sources (indoor tanning beds). Since a family history of skin cancer may also impact your genetic risk of having a cancerous skin disease, it is important let your skincare provider know about your family's medical history. Left undetected, melanoma can spread (referred to as metastatic melanoma) to the liver, lungs, bones and brain making it more difficult to treat.

Associates in Dermatology: A Pioneer in Melanoma Awareness

As one of the elite dermatologist nationwide and a Moh's skin cancer surgeon who is a member of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Amonette Circle, Dr. Michael Steppie firmly believes that it’s his life’s purpose and mission to help spread awareness among the Central Florida community about the dangers that our sun-soaking lifestyles pose to our skin’s and our body’s health. Under his leadership and guidance, the dermatologists, nurses and physician assistants at fifteen Associate in Dermatology locations work tirelessly to educate communities about skin cancer risks and preventative measures. Florida's warm, sunny climate means many days spent outdoors with a high level of exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

In 2017, Dr. Steppie collaborated with Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., associate professor at Sanford Burnham Presbys Medical Discovery Institute at Lake Nona and other colleagues to study new biomarkers that could potentially provide earlier and more reliable clinical diagnostics for the deadliest form of skin cancer. As Michael Steppie, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Florida State University, has often pointed out, the incidence of melanoma in men above the age of 65 is twice as high as the rate in women. By age 80, the rate triples. Dr. Steppie also alerted Central Florida residences about the alarming rise of melanoma incidence among Hispanics more than three years ago.

FREE Screenings to Protect Our Central Florida Communities

To help protect those in the communities we love, Associates in Dermatology is offering *free cancer screenings at most locations as well as various community events like the recent Heart to Heart Annual Women’s Information Expo & Health Safety Awareness Event.  Our skin cancer awareness and community outreach initiatives have spread across six counties and been covered in many popular publications including:

  • Apopka Chief
  • Better Living
  • Life at Hunter’s Creek
  • Orlando Family Magazine
  • Orlando the Beautiful
  • Osceola News-Gazette
  • Osceola Woman Magazine
  • Poinciana Pioneer
  • Sanford Herald
  • The News Leader
  • The Planter
  • The Triangle

Associates in Dermatology, voted among the top physicians in greater Orlando for 2017, has sponsored the daily UV Index feature on Orlando’s Fox 35 for six consecutive years. Our dedication to promoting skin cancer awareness and providing free screenings and information during Melanoma Awareness Month has made Associates in Dermatology one of the areas’ most trusted sources for high quality care for those seeking skin cancer prevention and treatment.

Our FREE screenings are an opportunity not to be missed! Call to schedule yours today.


*Offer applies to new patients. The patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hours of responding to the advertisement for free, discounted fee, reduced fee service, examination or treatment. Existing patients: Free only applies to those who have not been seen in 3+ years.

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