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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Have fun in the sun, but be sun smart. That's the message two cartoon-style moles deliver to kids of all ages in new public service announcements released by Mayo Clinic as part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May. Melanoma is on the rise, particularly among teens and young adults. It can be deadly. In the public service messages, available for use on television, radio, online and other platforms, two moles — animal moles, that is — illustrate the importance of four key skin cancer prevention and early detection tips:
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: 28- and 58-second PSAs for broadcast and Web use and a 28-second spot for radio may be downloaded or embedded from the Mayo Clinic News Network. Also on the network: video of Dr. Brewer on sun smarts and melanoma rising in young people.
Melanoma is rising faster than any other form of cancer, and it's happening to young people, says Mayo Clinic dermatologist Jerry Brewer, M.D. His research shows it's up eightfold among women and fourfold among young men under 40. Each sunburn or tanning bed exposure raises the risk, he says.
"We're seeing melanoma happen more often in even teenagers nowadays," Dr. Brewer says. "And one of the messages is that it can happen to you. Some things that you can do to help prevent that are avoid tanning beds, avoid sunburns and be aware of your skin."
Because many teens and their parents think melanoma won't happen to people under 20, teen cases
often are detected later than physicians would like, Dr. Brewer says. Young people who spend a lot of time in the sun, such as outdoor athletes, or use tanning beds are among those at higher risk, he says.
In the public service messages, two moles enjoy a sunny day building sand castles on the beach. One mole knows the value of sun protection and uses sunscreen; the other doesn't, gets sunburn that ruins his day, and ultimately develops skin moles that send him to the doctor, where he comes to realize the danger of skin cancer and the importance of sun smarts. The cartoon closes with both moles back on the beach, now properly outfitted for a fun day in the sun.
"I think this PSA is a really good one because it has a nice message, its style is a way of connecting with young kids," Dr. Brewer says. "I think people can really relate to the exposure on the beach, having fun and all of a sudden before you know it you have sunburn, and hopefully that message can really connect with people — how we can help prevent what happened to this unfortunate mole."
The public service announcements can be downloaded or embedded from the Mayo Clinic News Network. Versions available include:
Journalists interested in interviewing Dr. Brewer or learning more about the public service announcements should contact Sharon Theimer in Mayo Clinic Media Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org