Skin cancer awareness on decline

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one American dies every hour from the disease as stated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The incidence of skin cancer in the United States has reached epidemic proportions.

Skin cancer represents the most commonly diagnosed malignancy, and according to, more than a million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. So why is does it go so unnoticed?

Brandon Neasman, 19, a second year magazine student from Delaware, claims that he doesn’t know much about skin cancer.

“I know that if I knew more about it, I would care more,” Neasman said. “There is hardly any publicity on the issue, so how will people know to make a big deal?”

There are some misconception that some may have about skin cancer which medical professionals say is the problem.

“No one is entirely free from skin cancer. Someone with irregular or large moles is more likely to be a victim to the disease,” said Michele Brantley, a nurse at Jefferson County Health Center. “If your skin burns easily or gets freckles easily you are more prone to getting skin cancer.” Brantley also mentioned that many people assume that skin cancer is irrelevant to dark-skinned people.

“I don’t believe dark-skinned people are as vulnerable to getting skin cancer because their melanin is a lot stronger then light-skinned people,” said Ajsia Warmack, 19, a second year business student from Atlanta.

The risk factors for skin cancer include fair complexion, occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium, family history, multiple or atypical moles and severe sunburns as a child.

Like many other diseases, there are prevention methods.

According to, doctors recommend avoiding intense sunlight for long periods of time and practicing sun-safety such as using sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor of fifteen or higher and wearing sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent ultraviolet absorption to help prevent skin cancer. Though doctors stress the preventative methods for skin cancer, they still encourage people to continue to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

In addition, practicing the shadow rule, which emphasizes that if your shadow is shorter than you the sun’s rays are at its strongest, is also an accurate method individuals can do to help prevent skin cancer.

Students who are unaware of skin cancer believe that spreading the word is something people should take more seriously.

Neasman said that while other organizations employ street team members to go out and inform the masses about different diseases, he does not think skin cancer has received the same promotion.

“There are so many street teams for so many other diseases to inform people about the seriousness of them, but none on skin cancer,” Neasman said. “That should change.”