Award to be Utilized in Continued Spread of Skin Cancer Awareness and Prevention Initiatives Throughout State of Maine
Maine Cancer Foundation’s grant is offered as part of their ongoing Challenge Cancer 2020 initiative, aimed at reducing cancer incidence and mortality in Maine. They have awarded over $11 million since 2015 in support of this initiative, focused on prevention, early detection and screening, and access to care for all Mainers.
That all being said, IMPACT Melanoma are proud to be the recipient once again for the monetary help this grant provides. Building on the strong start from our 2018-2019 Maine Cancer Foundation grant funded program, IMPACT Melanoma will continue our work to reduce the burden of skin cancer to Maine residents by improving skin cancer prevention. Focusing on high risk groups, like outdoor workers, people to frequent recreational facilities and children in summer camps, IMPACT and MCF can improve the rate of skin cancer in the state.
Data has shown that skin cancer rates are growing at epidemic numbers. Outdoor workers, and the general populous who spend time outdoors, are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. While these statistics are sobering, there is good news: studies now show that the regular use of sunscreen can reduce the risk of melanoma by up to 80%. Prevention methods and sun safety protocols go a long way in improving the health and safety of Maine residents. However, awareness about the importance of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer is still lacking. Our study of sunscreen use in Maine reveals that 44% of the 385 participants surveyed don’t worry about getting a sunburn and that sunscreen use is lower in all seasons in Maine as compared to national usage.
This year alone, over 3.5 million skin cancers will be diagnosed in America. Of that, there will be 76,000 new cases of melanoma. Close to 10,000 Americans will die of this disease this year. In 2014, the Surgeon General cited skin cancer as a major public health concern and initiated a call to action to prevent skin cancer, which has been updated annually every year since.
According to the 2016 Maine Annual Cancer Report, the incidence of melanoma in Maine (28 cases per 100,000) is higher than the national average (26.6 cases per 100,000). This disparity is even wider among women (22.6/100K in Maine vs. 18.7/100K nationally).
Our project here with the Maine Cancer Foundation and their generous grant monies is critical because 95% of skin cancer is preventable. One huge way to decrease skin cancer is to educate on prevention strategies to change behaviors, leading to healthier habits over the course of a person’s lifetime. Education can come in the form of public service announcements, direct instruction, signage on sunscreen dispensers, etc. Education leads to both prevention and detection. Providing physical prevention, in the form of sunscreen, is one way to reduce the incidence of cancer.
Usage data from previous pilot sites reveal that while under a third of users (31%) have used a sunscreen dispenser before, and 97% of users surveyed said they would do so again in the future.
“Here in Gray we have our parents, staff, and campers (summer day camp) trained to provide sunscreen throughout the day.” – Dean Bennett (Gray Parks and Facilities Director)
“On our end, the program was a tremendous success. Not only were the sunscreen dispensers used, but the feedback from the public was supportive an positive.” – Kevin Senal (Fort Fairfield, ME)
Considering this, and knowing that sunscreen use has been proven to reduce melanoma risk, increasing the availability of free sunscreen dispensers and sun safety education in Maine carries great potential for a measurable increase in skin cancer awareness and prevention practices here.
In addition to the continued maintenance of 106 current sunscreen dispensers, IMPACT plans to expand this highly visible public prevention program. In 2020, the focus of IMPACT Melanoma’s on-ground expansion in Maine will be Old Orchard Beach (OOB). Partnering with the leadership, the Town of OOB, a comprehensive list of sunscreen dispenser sites has already been developed to effectively serve the community. The OOB program rollout will follow all CDC recommended guidelines related to Coronavirus.
“Many of our workers are out in the sun all day long (Public Works, Police, Lifeguards, Recreation Department),” said Old Orchard Beach Town Clerk, Kim McLaughlin. “We want to encourage them to use sunscreen. By having a sunscreen dispenser at the front door of their departments, it will remind them to put it on before they leave the building. We would also like to work with local businesses, especially hotels, to see if they are willing to host a sunscreen dispenser at their place of business, and eventually offer these dispensers to daily beach goers by placing in parking lots, etc.”
Read more about Kim and her personal melanoma survival story here.
This program will provide life-saving sunscreen and sun safety information to over 125,000 Maine residents and visitors, including underserved populations, through public sunscreen dispensers (1 case of sunscreen serves 2,500 people so 50 cases equals 125,000 people). Plus, we will reach over 400 parks and recreation workers and staff members statewide who are at high risk for skin cancer due to the nature of their everyday work duties. Camp kits will provide education and sun safety materials to 500 children and their counselors. Short term, these populations will be provided with direct skin cancer prevention methods and public safety information. The education and training will provide long term improvements to sun safe behaviors, resulting in reduced skin cancer rates over time for these groups.
In short, we’re thrilled we were once again chosen to bolster the work we started and will continue to loyally grow through 2021, and, with any luck, beyond!
Many thanks to Katelyn Michaud, Program Manager at Maine Cancer Foundation for helping facilitate the approval of this generous grant. The following is a conversation we recently held with her with regard to our latest grant award – which serves as the third consecutive year of our ongoing initiative throughout the state of Maine.
IMPACT: This is the third year IMPACT has been awarded the Maine Cancer Foundation Grant. What makes the organization stick out to you making them worthy of repeat grant awards?
Michaud: With past grant funding from Maine Cancer Foundation, IMPACT Melanoma successfully completed a statewide campaign addressing sun safety in Maine. IMPACT is poised to keep Mainers sun safe and promote cancer prevention messaging throughout the state, and Maine Cancer Foundation is pleased to partner with them again through this recent 2020 grant.
IMPACT: What do you appreciate about their quest to raise awareness and help combat against skin cancer through the placement of sunscreen dispensers in statewide Parks and Recreation areas?
Michaud: Maine Cancer Foundation is committed to reducing cancer in our state and we know IMPACT Melanoma shares in that mission. By partnering with Parks and Recreation departments, municipalities, beaches, and many other sites, IMPACT is reaching Mainers in communities statewide and helping to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
IMPACT: What’s the importance of this initiative for the state and inclusive park and rec communities who have access to this sunscreen? What value does IMPACT add to the overall community and the work the Maine Cancer Foundation is doing?
Michaud: We know there are many ways to prevent cancer before it starts and Maine Cancer Foundation’s efforts in cancer prevention aim to reduce cancer risk for everyone in our state. One way to prevent cancer is to stay safe in the sun and take protective measures while outdoors — in both the summer and the winter. Through IMPACT Melanoma’s grant funding from Maine Cancer Foundation, Mainers will have increased access to sunscreen and skin cancer prevention education that would not be possible without Impact’s tireless effort and dedication. Maine Cancer Foundation is pleased to support this continued statewide sun safety campaign as we all work to reduce the burden of cancer in our communities.
To learn more about Maine Cancer Foundation, visit www.mainecancer.org, or contact Katelyn Michaud, email@example.com.