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More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it the #1 cancer in the United States. Although $8 billion dollars is spent annually on treating skin cancer, we still loose one person every 45 minutes to the disease. Nurses play an important role in educating patients and their communities about skin cancer prevention.

In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General, Admiral Boris Lushniak, issued a Call to Action (CTA) to Prevent Skin Cancer. He declared that skin cancer was a major public health problem for Americans. The CTA included five strategic goals to educate, advocate, research and protect Americans from skin cancer.

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action Goals:
1) increasing opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings;
2) providing individuals with information to make informed, healthy choices about UV exposure;
3) promoting policies that advance the national goal of preventing skin cancer;
4) reducing harm from indoor tanning;
5) strengthening research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention.

The Surgeon General’s CTA has been an important step forward in galvanizing all stakeholders to take action to prevent skin cancer. One nursing organization, the Dermatology Nurses Association (DNA), has responded to the CTA by issuing an official Position Statement that includes strategies to address the national CTA goals. DNA issued a press release on May 2, 2016, outlining its position on the CTA and recognizing its efforts in support of May as the official Melanoma Awareness month in the U.S.

The DNA’s official position is to use the SunAWARE acronym and materials to promote the Surgeon General’s Call to Action by educating our patients, individuals, colleagues, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, town planners, and others to Be Safe, Be SunAWARE!

The SunAWARE acronym is comprised of five easy steps, in order of prevention priority:

Avoiding unprotected UV exposure, seek shade, and never indoor tan.
Wear sun protective clothing, including broad brimmed hats, long sleeves, pants and sunglasses.
Apply adequate amounts of a BROAD SPECTRUM sunscreen and reapply at least every two hours.
Routinely check your whole body for new and changing growths, and report suspicious changes to a health care provider.
Educate your family and community about sun protection and skin cancer prevention.

Reference:
Call to Action: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/prevent-skin-cancer/index.html.

DNA Position Statement on the Call to Action:
http://www.dnanurse.org/docs/5216pressrelease.pdf

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