CONTACT :: Dorothea Brock, Project Director

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“There is good news: skin cancer can be prevented. The challenge, however, liesin changing the attitudes and behaviors that increase a person’s risk of developingskin cancer.”
– David Satcher, MD, PhD, Surgeon General

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To decrease ultraviolet radiation exposure through the development and implementation of a multifaceted statewide school based skin cancer prevention program by 2006.
Year 1: October 03 – February 04
Year 2: March 04 – February 05
Year 3: March 05 – February 06


Despite the fact that approximately 80 percent of all skin cancers are preventable, skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States today.1 In fact, skin cancer cases make up half of all new cancers that are diagnosed. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which are non-melanoma skin cancers, and malignant melanoma, the most serious and aggressive form of skin cancer.

In North Carolina, projections for the year 2000 show an estimated 1,220 new cases of malignant melanoma and an estimated 225 deaths from the disease.  The incidence of melanoma in North Carolina rose between 1990 and 1998 (Figure 1).

melanoma incidence in NC 1990-98

Malignant melanoma is increasing in incidence more rapidly than any form of cancer.  Since 1930, the incidence of melanoma has increased by 2000 percent. Currently, it is the sixth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in women.  Data from the National Cancer Institute indicate, however, that the relative five-year survival rate for malignant melanoma increased from 81 percent in 1976 to 87 percent in 1992.  This is due in part to detection of thinner lesions, which have a better prognosis. Despite the increase in survival, mortality from melanoma continues to rise due to its increasing incidence. North Carolina ranked fifteenth in the United States in malignant melanoma mortality for the period 1992-1996.

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays appears to be the most important environmental factor in developing skin cancer. This makes skin cancer a largely preventable disease when sun protective practices and behaviors are consistently applied and used. UV rays from artificial sources of light, such as tanning beds and sun lamps are just as dangerous as those from the sun, and should also be avoided. Unfortunately, despite the fact that both tanning and burning can increase one’s risk of skin cancer, most Americans do not protect themselves from UV rays.

Effective sun protection is practiced by less than one-third of U.S. youth. In a recent survey by the American Cancer Society of youth aged 11–18 years, routinely practiced sun-protection behaviors among young people on sunny days were wearing sunglasses (32%) or long pants (21%), staying in the shade (22%), and applying sunscreen (31%). Fifty-eight percent of those using sunscreen, used sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more when at the beach or pool.

A recent survey of parents of children under 12 years found that approximately 43% of white children experienced at least one sunburn in the past year.  As a result of the growing concern about the importance of minimizing UV exposure during childhood and the rising incidence of skin cancer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer to help state and local education agencies and schools promote safety and help schools be safe places to learn.

CDC Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer
The North Carolina Cancer Control Plan 2001-2006 


Skin cancer supplemental funding addresses three goals:

  1. Supportive policies and environments,
  2. Develop model recommendations for building and design
  3. Develop model policies/recommendations for school based outside activities

Synergistic campaigns and strategies to educate educators, their caregivers, and children and,
Curriculum implementation (Healthful Living Standard Course of Study)
Teacher Training (Sunny Days, Healthy Ways)
Parent and Community Awareness
Quality of data on school children and their caregivers’ skin cancer protective behaviors knowledge, attitudes and behaviors
NC Profiles
NC Youth Risk Behavior Survey