Surgeon General Urges Us to Avoid Sunburn Blues

In late July, the acting U.S. surgeon general issued a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer (Adobe Reader required). According to the report, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable. In fact, the report states that nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States, and this costs an estimated $8.1 billion annually.

The report seeks to educate the nation about the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices, which are a cause of skin cancer, as well highlight strategies to prevent skin cancer by reducing exposure to UV radiation. The five strategic goals to support skin cancer prevention in the United States listed in the report are:

  • Increase opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings;
  • Provide individuals with the information they need to make informed, healthy choices about UV exposure;
  • Promote policies that advance the national goal of preventing skin cancer;
  • Reduce harms from indoor tanning; and
  • Strengthen research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention.

In addition to improved implementation of skin cancer prevention strategies, new approaches are needed to treat those individuals who develop the disease, in particular the most deadly form of skin cancer—melanoma. Recent advances in treating melanoma were highlighted in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2013, but with 76,000 individuals in the United States expected to receive this diagnosis in 2014 alone (1), more needs to be done. Some of the areas of research most likely to yield promise in the future will be discussed at the AACR special conference Advances in Melanoma: From Biology to Therapy, which is being held in Philadelphia, Sept. 20–23.


“Be Sun Sensible”: We’ve Come a Long Way but Have Further to Go

The topic of skin cancer prevention was also recently covered by Kevin McLaughlin in his AACR blog post, “Be Sun Sensible.” In that post, he talked about the fact that little thought was given to sunscreen use and skin cancer prevention during his childhood trips to the Jersey shore, but that now we know that “the best way to reduce skin cancer damage is through prevention and early detection.”



  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014.