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DHSS Press Release

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

Date: May 4, 2016


DOVER, DE (May 4, 2016) - As spring heats up, most people are focused on making plans for summer fun in the sun and getting outside to soak up the rays. Few people - too few-are focused on the reality that Delaware ranks an alarming third-highest, up from fourth in 2006-2010, in the nation for incidence rates of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to the most recent report. In addition, too few people are aware that they can prevent skin cancer by taking the appropriate steps. Building on ongoing awareness efforts, the 2016 Division of Public Health (DPH) #ProtectYourSkinDE skin cancer prevention campaign is underway, hoping to change these alarming realities with an initiative designed to educate residents and motivate positive action.

"Many people don't think of skin cancer as deadly, nor do they realize that being sun smart can dramatically reduce the risk of getting skin cancer later on," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "That is what this program sets out to change. We aim to impress upon anyone and everyone that skin cancer can, and does, kill, while also giving them the tools and support to help prevent them and their loved ones from becoming victims of this horrible cancer."

The campaign includes dynamic digital and outdoor advertisements, social media, and the ProtectYourSkinDE.com website. This comprehensive site offers everything from facts and figures to tips for people who work outdoors. The site enables visitors to find a dermatologist, and it also offers video testimonials from skin cancer survivors that explain why skin cancer prevention is so important. Kyle Kokjohn, a 21-year-old University of Delaware student, was diagnosed with melanoma when he was 19. Now that he is cancer-free, he uses his experience to advocate for the importance of sun protection, including a video testimonial for the #ProtectYourSkinDE campaign. "I'm the prime example of why you need to wear sunscreen, and I've embraced that role," said Kokjohn. "I want to tell people that they need to be aware of the sun, because most people aren't."

Other testimonial speakers on ProtectYourSkinDE.cominclude Delaware Speaker of the House, Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, who is a melanoma skin cancer survivor, and Tereska James of Brown Skin Too Foundation, whose sister passed away from stage IV melanoma in 2015.

While there are certain risk factors for melanoma that cannot be changed, such as having light-colored skin or a family history of the disease, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays causes 65 to 90 percent of melanomas, so it is essential that Delawareans protect their skin every time they go outside. In addition, 80 percent of lifetime UV radiation exposure occurs during childhood.

"The best way to treat cancer is to prevent it. Many don't realize that up to 50 percent of cancers, including skin cancer, are preventable," says Bayhealth Cancer Institute Medical Director Dr. Rishi Sawhney. "It's important for people to self-examine their skin monthly for anything suspicious, and see a healthcare professional yearly. The key to better outcomes is early detection, which means regular exams and screenings."

DPH emphasizes that protecting your skin from sun exposure is a year-round job, and offers the following preliminary tips:

To help further education and advance early detection practices, the 2016 prevention campaign will include events throughout the summer in an effort to connect people with resources for prevention and early detection. At these events, health officials will give away "sun-sensitive" educational items as well as encourage attendees to participate in interactive games to learn more about skin cancer. Events include:

Wednesday, May 18
10:35 a.m. Wilmington Blue Rocks School Kids Special Game
801 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, DE 19801

Saturday, May 21
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Fifer Orchards Strawberry Festival
1919 Allabands Mill Road,
Camden Wyoming, DE 19934

Friday, May 27
"Don't Fry Day" at the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk Noon to 4:00 p.m.
Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

Saturday, June 11
Annual Safe Summer Day at Brecknock County Park 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
80 Old Camden Road, Camden, DE 19934

Tuesday, June 21; Wednesday, July 13; Thursday, August 11
Family Fun Night at Brandywine Zoo 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
1001 N. Park Drive, Wilmington, DE 19802

Saturday, June 25
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Fifer Orchards Blueberry Festival
1919 Allabands Mill Road, Camden Wyoming, DE 19934

Saturday, Aug. 13
Zap Amateur World Championships of Skimboarding
New Orleans Street, Dewey Beach, DE 19971

The #ProtectYourSkinDE campaign runs from May through September. For more information on prevention and your risk for skin cancer, contact the DPH Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 302-744-1020, or visit ProtectYourSkinDE.com or HealthyDelaware.org.

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. 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.