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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: May 9, 2014



DOVER (May 9, 2014) - The bright, sunny days of summer are ahead and it's time to plan for a happy, healthy season. To kick off May as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) has launched ProtectYourSkinDE.com, a web site offering educational information on skin cancer prevention and early detection. Activities will also include a Delaware high school signature contest for students to pledge to wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen. These awareness-raising efforts are essential since the better we protect our skin and the earlier skin cancers are detected, the less likely they will spread to other parts of the body.

"Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and unlike all other kinds of cancer, the rates are climbing," said Lisa Henry, chief of DPH's Chronic Disease Bureau. "Delaware's melanoma incidence rate increased nearly 64 percent, three times the nation's rate." Delaware ranked fourth-highest in the U.S. for incidence of melanoma of the skin during 2006-2010, up from fifth in 2005-2009. Delaware males ranked second (up from fourth in 2005-2009) and females ranked sixth (up from 10th in 2005-2009).

During 2006-2010, Delaware ranked 28th-highest in the nation for mortality from melanoma of the skin, down from 24th in 2005-2009. Delaware males ranked 20th (down from ninth in 2005-2009) and females ranked 39th (down from 37th in 2005-2009).

Delawarean Samantha Gustafson, whose husband Brett died at 28 from melanoma, sees her loss as an opportunity to educate others. "Brett was the best husband and father anyone could ever ask for. I don't want people to have to go through what we did. Learn the warning signs, the precautions -- and be proactive. If something looks suspicious, get to your doctor."

In an effort to reach "at-risk" populations, the state has partnered with organizations such as the Delaware Farm Bureau, DelDOT and Delaware State Parks. The state will also have tables at farmers' markets and sports events, where Delawareans can receive information on skin cancer prevention and early detection. Event dates and times include:

The risk of skin cancer is greatest for individuals who are fair-skinned, have blue or green eyes, have skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun; have many large and irregularly shaped moles; and who are exposed to the sun through work and play. Additional risk factors include family history of melanoma, increasing age, gender (women have higher risk before age 40) and xeroderma pigmentosum - a rare, inherited condition.


For more information, contact the Delaware Division of Public Health's Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 302-744-1020 or visit www.ProtectYourSkinDE.com or www.HealthyDelaware.org.

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.