Educate Your Team on Skin Cancer Risks

Invasive melanoma is the most virulent form of skin cancer. It will kill more 10,000 Americans this year. That’s one death every 52 minutes. An estimated 46,870 new cases of invasive melanoma in men and 29,510 in women will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016.

Should you take skin cancer seriously? Should you advise your employees of the danger of working unprotected against the sun? The above statistics strongly suggest you should. The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Consider including skin cancer education in your safety training. Advise your employees of its dangers in a short tailgate training session. Use and make sunscreen readily available to your employees.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days.

The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Daylight Saving Time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors. UV rays from sunlight are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America.

The CDC recommends the following protections from UV radiation:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

Invasive melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Less serious forms include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma. BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. Although rarely fatal, it can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. These skin cancers, like melanoma, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion — about $4.8 billion for non-melanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.

While melanoma accounts for less than 1 percent of skin cancer cases, it’s the most deadly form of skin cancer and accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men, along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer.

The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 98 percent in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 63 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 17 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs, reports the American Cancer Society.

Ronnie Hall  ( Previously, editor-at-large of Turf magazine ) has had five surgeries to remove squamous cell carcinomas, the first when he was 36.