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skin cancer prevention

Looking Back at 2021

Our 2021 Annual Reports are out now!

It’s always a rewarding experience to look back on the past year and see how much the Foundation has accomplished.

Despite another year amid the pandemic, Save Your Skin Foundation and Ocumel Canada have continued to grow partnerships, operations and services, and reach more people touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and ocular melanoma.

We are extremely grateful to our community of patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and sponsors who continue to inspire and support us in our endeavors.

Click on the images below to view the reports:

 

 

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May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

SKIN CANCER IS THE MOST COMMON OF ALL CANCERS.

There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers COMBINED[1]

Save Your Skin Foundation is Creating a Healthier and More Sun Safe Canada During Melanoma Skin Cancer Awareness Month

As May marks both Melanoma Awareness Month and the beginning of summer weather, it is imperative that communities across Canada be reminded of the importance of sun safety at this time of year. Save Your Skin Foundation (SYSF) is pleased to announce several initiatives meant to bring greater awareness to the dangerous disease.

CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO CHECK OUT OUR PLANS AND ACTIVITIES TO BRING MELANOMA AWARENESS IN MAY 2021:

 

PRESS RELEASE April 28, 2021: Save Your Skin Foundation Teams up with Vancouver Canucks’ JT Miller to Spread Message of Sun Safety Amid Rising Skin Cancer Rates

Proclamations: Our Canada-wide awareness initiative invites Canadian municipalities to take a stance against skin cancer and educate their communities on sun safety through mayoral proclamations.
This year, 50 Canadian municipalities to across 10 provinces answered our call to proclaim May 2021 ‘Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month’.
Look for your city on the full list HERE!

WEBINAR May 13, 2021 – Click here to watch the recording: Skin Cancer A-Z Educational Webinar with Dr. Salopek

Giving Hope Gala April 29, 2021:  Click here to see how our our virtual event fund raiser went!

SYSF’s 15th Anniversary! Click here to view a collection of the Foundation’s highlights, activities, and events from 2006 to 2021

SYSF Public Service Announcements

Team SYSF Merchandise Store

 

DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE BELOW TO USE AS YOUR FACEBOOK AND TWITTER COVER PHOTO FOR THE MONTH OF MAY:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE A LIST OF SUN SAFETY AWARENESS RESOURCES YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OR ORDER:

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Huge Thanks to All Supporters of SYSF’s Giving Hope Gala 2021!

From all of us at Save Your Skin Foundation, heartfelt appreciation for all of the love we received in support of our 2021 Giving Hope Gala.  Thank you to all who purchased tickets, made donations, joined us at the event, sponsored the Gala, donated gifts to the auction – everyone! Not only did we have a blast partying on the dance floor, but we raised over $20,000 for melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and ocular melanoma patients.

Thanks also to…

* The devoted and caring Oncologists, Dermatologists, Nurses, and Medical Teams who look after us and all of the Patients and Caregivers we support

* Our Sponsors and Funding Partners for supporting our work tonight and throughout the year

* JT and Natalie Miller for generously sharing their time and resources to help share our message at the Gala, in our press release, and beyond

* Everyone who helped put this event together – our amazing team – Marianne, SYSF Program and Event Coordinator, Amy, SYSF’s Marketing and Communications Director, Lise, our Quebec Consultant, Kathy and Rosemary, and our Board of Directors, family and friends who always pitch in

Last but not least we wish to thank:

The Patients, Survivors, and Caregivers who joined us at the Gala, or are behind the Foundation, from BC and all over Canada. They are the inspiration behind our devotion to their well-being, and we are honoured to work on their behalf every day.

Thanks to Everyone near and far for your Support!

 

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SYSF Webinar: Skin Cancer A-Z

Webinar Recording Available: “Melanoma and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers From A-Z” with Dermatologist Thomas G. Salopek, MD FRCPC, Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Alberta.

This webinar helps educate the general public about the dangers of UV exposure, and it also addresses what options patients and their families have if they are diagnosed with any form of skin cancer. Learn about skin cancer statistics in Canada, sun protection and safety, and details on treatment for primary and metastatic basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, merkel cell carcinoma, and melanoma and melanoma sub-types. For more detailed information on immunotherapy and targeted therapy for each of these please view our webinars on each, at https://saveyourskin.ca/webinars-video-resources/

This webinar presentation is in collaboration with Save Your Skin Foundation, La Roche-Posay, the Quebec Cancer Foundation, and the Alberta Society of Melanoma.

To view the presentation recording, click here: https://youtu.be/Ae_QXVAk_lY

To view the French recording please click here: https://youtu.be/Yoh38INeDgo

To learn more about treatment options for melanoma, please click here to see another of our past webinars detailing immunotherapy and targeted therapy:  https://youtu.be/nS9OAFgknwE

To learn all about the NCCN Patient Guidelines to which Dr. Salopek referred, please click here: https://saveyourskin.ca/nccn-guidelines-for-skin-cancers/

For questions or more information on anything presented here please email natalie@saveyourskin.ca or reach Kathy at 1-800-460-5832

 

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Young Winnipeg girl makes buttons for a good cause

A young Winnipeg girl named Drea has been busy during the pandemic making buttons for face masks. The ingenious buttons attach to your glasses to take the pressure off your ears.

With the help of her grandmother Suzanne, Drea launched ‘Designs by Drea’ and began making and selling the buttons in the summer of 2020.  It was always their intention to donate a portion from each sale to Save Your Skin Foundation.

Drea’s uncle Wes has stage 2 high risk melanoma and just finished a year of Immunotherapy treatment.

Last month Drea donated half of her profits to Save Your Skin Foundation, donating the other half to another Canadian skin cancer charity to support efforts to find a cure for melanoma.

You can still purchase buttons at $3.00 for one pair or $5.00 for 2 pair. To order email triathlonski@gmail.com

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Sun Safety in the Winter

The arrival of frosty weather prompts the annual changes from t-shirts to turtle necks and flip flops to boots. While cold lemonade is left behind for hot chocolate, one routine that must remain through the seasonal shift is sun safety. Winter leads many to believe that sun protection is no longer required. In reality, fresh snow can reflect between 80-90% of UV rays. The reflection from snow combined with the impact of direct sunlight can therefore result in double exposure[efn_note]https://www.sunsmart.com.au/protect-your-skin/at-the-snow[/efn_note]

This high exposure can be especially worrisome while doing winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. While practicing these sports, people are exposed to blankets of reflective snow along with the consequences of both the sun and the altitude. At higher elevations, UV radiation is absorbed at a lower rate and as a result the UV rays are considerably stronger. The World Health Organization has noted that a 1000 meter increase in altitude is associated with an increase of nearly 10 per cent in UV radiation[efn_note]https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/radiation-ultraviolet-(uv)[/efn_note]. To put that into perspective, the ski resort with the highest elevation in Canada is 2,730 meters. According to the estimation, the ski resort faces almost a 30% increase in UV levels due to altitude[efn_note]https://www.skiresort.info/ski-resorts/canada/sorted/mountain-altitude/[/efn_note]

In addition to this, cloudy skies are not enough to stop the penetration of the sun’s rays. The clouds are actually thought to make the sun more harmful because they cause an unpredictable scattering effect of UV rays[efn_note]https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/radiation-ultraviolet-(uv)[/efn_note]

Taking all of this into consideration, there are actions that can be taken to stay safe from the sun throughout winter. First and foremost, it is advised to wear a sunscreen that is  waterproof[efn_note]https://www.mountainwarehouse.com/expert-advice/how-to-avoid-sunburn-on-slopes[/efn_note]. This sunscreen should be applied and reapplied especially to often missed areas like the nose, ears, neck and chin. Additionally, layering clothing protects the rest of the body from sun exposure and provides warmth from the cold weather[efn_note]https://www.skincancer.org/press/2018-winter-sun-safety/[/efn_note]. Finally, gear like helmets and goggles used for winter sports should not be neglected since they act as both a protectant from injuries and the beaming sun[efn_note]https://www.mountainwarehouse.com/expert-advice/how-to-avoid-sunburn-on-slopes[/efn_note]. Evidently, winter brings about changes in attire, activities and weather but the importance of sun safety remains.

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Debunking 5 Myths About the Sun and Tanning

debunking tanning mythsThere are dangerous misconceptions surrounding the safety of tanning. For this reason, we set out to uncover the science behind tanning and understand the truth behind 5 common tanning myths.

MYTH #1: Tanning Beds Are Safer Than the Sun

The best way to understand why tanning beds are more harmful than regular sun exposure is to break down the tanning process. First, when individuals spend time outdoors the sun’s UV rays dig into their skin and break through the skin’s protective layers. In response to this, the skin fights back with specialized skin cells known as melanocytes. The melanocytes release the pigment melanin which causes the tanned appearance. Unfortunately, sometimes the impact of UV rays can become too much for the skin cells to handle and sunburns form as a result. This impact by the UV rays damages the DNA in skin cells and overtime this can also lead to cases of skin cancer and a vulnerable immune system.[efn_note]For more information on the science behind tanning see “Tanning (for Teens)” by Nemours KidsHealth, https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/tanning.html[/efn_note]  With this in mind, if individuals use tanning beds they are subjecting their skin to this damage at a greater frequency than if they were to spend time in the direct sunlight. To solidify this, the World Health Organization has placed tanning beds in the highest cancer risk category. 

MYTH #2: A Base Tan Provides Adequate Sun Protection 

For many years, the theory that a base tan will provide sun protection has tempted individuals to hit the tanning beds before summer vacation. The idea behind this is that the base tan will reduce the chance of sunburning by preparing the skin for a battle in the sun.[efn_note]For more information on base tans see “10 Surprising Facts About Indoor Tanning” by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/surprising-facts-about-indoor-tanning[/efn_note] However, it has been discovered that if a base tan were measured on the SPF scale it would be equivalent to a sun protection factor of between two and four.[efn_note]For more information on tanning safety see “Indoor Tanning Is Out” by the Canadian Dermatology Association, https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/sun-protection/indoor-tanning-is-out/[/efn_note] It has been recommended that individuals wear sunscreen with an SPF of thirty so just by merely examining these numbers it is clear a base tan is not nearly enough protection. In addition to this, the base tan would be exposing the skin to the known damage of tanning beds which is more dangerous than protective. The lack of evidence to support the base tan theory confirms it is not the best route and the best sun protection is still sunscreen, sunglasses and sun safety apparel.[efn_note]For further information on base tans see “A Healthy Base Tan?” by Forefront Dermatology, https://forefrontdermatology.com/heathy-base-tan/[/efn_note]

MYTH #3: Extra Sun Exposure Is Necessary for Vitamin D Levels

It is a common fact  that Vitamin D is associated with healthy bones, but Vitamin D can be obtained more easily than most people think. There is no need to spend a prolonged amount of time in the sun to soak up the sought after vitamin. It can be acquired through eating foods abundant in Vitamin D like salmon, tuna and egg yolks. Milk sold at grocery stores is also enriched with Vitamin D to reduce the chance of bone health concerns. In addition to this, after consulting a doctor, and if deemed appropriate, there are Vitamin D supplement options. This being said, the amount of time individuals spend outside naturally is sufficient in increasing Vitamin D levels, making a lengthy time outdoors for that specific purpose unnecessary.[efn_note] For more information on Vitamin D see “Vitamin D Myths ‘D’-bunked” by Yale Medicine, https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/vitamin-d-myths-debunked/[/efn_note]

tanning isn't worth the risk

MYTH #4: Sunscreen Is Unnecessary While Under Cover 

There exists a common misconception that being under shade protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The issue with this is that although individuals may not be in the direct line of the UV rays they can still be indirectly affected when the sun’s rays reflect off of other surfaces. For example, it is common to sit under an umbrella for shade during a day at the beach but the sun can still reflect off of the water and sand. On top of this, it can be difficult to always remain completely covered under an umbrella or shaded area because the sun moves quickly. For these reasons it is safest to still apply sunscreen for full coverage.[efn_note]For more information on the use of sunscreen see “Healthy Skin: Made in the Shade?” by the Skin Cancer Foundation, https://www.skincancer.org/blog/healthy-skin-made-in-the-shade/[/efn_note]

MYTH #5: Tanning Achieves Perfect Skin

The results of a tan can appear to cause skin to look radiant and remove the sign of blemishes. In fact, tanning the skin only temporarily creates this effect and it is well known that every tan creates varying levels of skin damage. Sun exposure is the most common cause of skin damage and wrinkling. Exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight causes changes to the skin. In addition to fine lines and wrinkles, UV damage causes brown spots and pigment irregularity, as well as broken capillaries and red blotches.[efn_note]For more information on skin damage by sun esposure see “Wrinkles” by the Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/wrinkles[/efn_note] In light of this, as tempting as it may be, a tan is not needed to achieve perfect skin. Skin care is about keeping skin healthy and not trying to make it look flawless. The skin functions and protects the human body in so many ways which is why it is important to take care of it. The best way to do this is to practice sun safety while outdoors and steer clear of tanning beds. 

For more information on sun safety, and to access resources to help you protect yourself, check out our Prevention page and our Sun Safety Resources poster.

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New Sun Safety T-shirts

During the month of May, SYSF ran a drawing contest titled “This is What Sun Safety Looks Like” in order to find a new design to adorn our sun safety t-shirts. The contest was aimed at youth under the age of 16. Once the contest submission period was over, we invited the general public to vote for their favourite drawing. The winning drawing, submitted to us by Miley from Scotchlake, NS, won by a landslide. Her drawing, depicting an umbrella, a tube of sunscreen and a water bottle on a road trip to Sun Safety Way in a vintage Volkswagon van, won us over with its fun interpretation of sun safety.

Our new t-shirts and other merchandise, which bear the awesome design, are now on sale in our brand new online merchandise store. We also have some awesome tote bags with the design!

All proceeds made from the sale of our merchandise goes directly to assisting patients meet their everyday needs during treatment in the form of transportation, accommodation, child care, lost wages and more.

Get your very own sun safety t-shirts and tote bags by visiting our brand new store!

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To Protect Yourself from Melanoma, Look UP

Our friends at Euromelanoma, in collaboration with the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy (an initiative of the Melanoma Research Foundation, of which SYSF is a member) have launched a new campaign to encourage people to do monthly skin checks. The campaign encourages people to “Look Up”.

If they see the sun, people should take action to protect their skin. If they see the full moon, they should perform a monthly skin check.

Help protect your loved ones and spread awareness of the importance of skin checks by downloading and sharing this poster:

To read the full report on global skin cancer statistics which inspired this campaign, please CLICK HERE.

Save Your Skin Foundation is proud to support and share this campaign to increase awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.  We thank Euro Melanoma for their hard work and collaboration, and we appreciate the sponsors and partners of the project.  Watch our social media channels for more on this initiative, and as always, feel free to contact us if you would like more information! natalie@saveyourskin.ca

About the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy: Click here to go to their introductory web page.  Save Your Skin is proud to be working with US-based Melanoma Research Foundation and the many other groups in the Coalition.  More on this is developing as we work together from our locations around the world to improve the lives of melanoma patients and their families.

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This Melanoma Awareness Month, Don’t Forget Sun Safety!

Every May is not only Melanoma Awareness Month, but also the beginning of sunny weather and summer plans. This year, while we are sheltering in place, going to the park or for a walk can be a great way to improve your mood; however, it is important to make sure that you are not only socially distancing, but also taking sun safety measures. 

In 2019, the Canadian Cancer Society estimated that of the 220,400 new cancer cases in 2019, 7,800 were melanoma (p. 25). Melanoma counts for 7% of cancer diagnoses for both the youth/young adult (15-29) and adult (30-49) demographics, as per a distribution of new cancer cases (for selected cancers) by age group in Canada (excluding Quebec), in 2011-2015 (p. 14). While the incidence rates for melanoma are not as high as other types of cancer, the mortality rates are substantial: of the 82,100 projected cancer deaths in 2019, 1,300 are expected to be due to melanoma (p. 47). Therefore, it is important to be vigilant in protecting yourself when you are outside in the sun, even if it is a quick trip.

It is true that certain populations are more at risk of developing skin cancer, such as those who have skin cancer in their family, are fair-skinned, or are taking any medication that may suppress their immune system; however, anyone who had frequent or extreme sunburns in adolescence, or continues to spend prolonged, unprotected time in the sun, is dramatically increasing their risk of developing skin cancer, as every sunburn is indicative of skin damage. While some of these circumstances are unavoidable, it is possible to reduce your risk of skin cancer by taking the following precautionary measures while enjoying your time in the sun. We encourage you to share these tips with your friends and family by sharing our Sun Safety Awareness Resources page, which has links to several helpful online and print guides to sun safety and skin cancer awareness.

Prevention

The most important sun safety tip is to limit your exposure to it. Enjoy the outdoors, but take these precautions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunscreen is also your ally. Here are some tips:

  • Carry a travel-sized sunscreen and an SPF lip balm with you at all times, so you are always prepared
  • Get a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and offers UVA and UVB protection
  • Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun
  • Reapply your sunscreen every two hours
  • Cream or lotion-based sunscreens provide better coverage than sprays
  • Make a list of the places you often forget, and cover them first– often-forgotten spots include the tops of feet, backs of hands, neck and ears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before going out, don’t forget to consult the UV Index rating in your area. You can also download UV Index apps such as the UV Index Widget or the Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App. Use guide above to help you interpret UV ratings.

Detection

Throughout the year, it is important to give yourself a self skin-check once a month. If you have a partner, perform them for each other. Take photos of, or write down, any existing moles, so you have a reference in case of any changes. To ensure that you do not miss a spot, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation guide to self-exams. If you see any changes in a mole, any new growths or moles, or you develop a sore that does not heal, get in touch with your health practitioner as soon as possible– it never hurts to be cautious, and earlier detection means earlier treatment. 

When checking your own skin or that of your loved ones, keep in mind the “ABCDEFG’s” of skin checks:

  • A – Asymmetry. The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • B – Border that is irregular. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • C – Colour that is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • D – Diameter. There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than 6 millimeters wide (about 1/4 inch wide).
  • E – Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
  • F – Firm. Is the mole harder than the surrounding skin?
  • G – Growing. Is the mole gradually getting larger?

While checking your skin for moles, you should also be keeping an eye out for actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis. Actinic keratosis generally develops in older people on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Actinic keratosis feels like a rough patch on the skin, and may become visible as red scaly patches; it is often confused with eczema. It may feel tender to the touch. If left untreated, actinic keratosis may develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

 

 

 

 

 

(“Actinic Keratosis.” Scars Center.)

When you are spending time outside this summer, do not forget to take sun safety precautions. Stay safe out there!

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