July 2008 MedBytes: Sun Safety

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Tex Med. 2008;104(7):56.

The summer heat in much of Texas is brutal, and staying protected from the blazing sun is essential. The Web sites listed here will help you counsel your patients on safeguarding themselves from damaging ultraviolet rays.

Texas Medical Association
Founded by TMA, the  Physician Oncology Education Program  (POEP) strives to provide Texas physicians and those in training with the knowledge and skills to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality. Select  Skin Cancer Resources  to be directed to educational tools such as treatment information from the National Cancer Institute and guidelines for minimizing sun exposure from The Electronic Textbook of Dermatology. Policies and reports are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reducing skin cancer deaths and increasing preventive measures. You can link to Web sites to share information with patients on spotting skin cancer, properly using sunscreen, and more.

American Academy of Dermatology
Dermatologists know firsthand the extent of damage the sun's rays can wage on a person's skin. At the American Academy of Dermatology  Web site , select  Public Service Advertisements  from the Featured Items box. You can watch and listen to a campaign developed to educate the public on the dangers of indoor tanning. Under the Featured Program heading, select  Sun Safety Program to access a database full of helpful resources, curriculum, and advocacy and legislative tools. Member resources include access to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and legislative, regulatory, and socioeconomic news for dermatologists.

American Academy of Ophthalmology
July has been designated "UV Safety Month" by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Click  here  for more information about the public health observance. From the site, you can open a document with talking points about the importance of warning patients to protect their eyes from ultraviolet radiation damage. A public service announcement can also be accessed for sound bytes to share with your community about this important health issue. Click on  Patient Handout  to open a PDF you can print and circulate in your office. The materials drive home the message that too much sun exposure can lead to vision loss.

American Cancer Society
For a well-organized toolkit encompassing all things related to skin cancer, the  American Cancer Society has physicians covered. The Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection page features information about understanding skin cancer and ultraviolet radiation, an explanation of the ultraviolet index, effective ways patients can protect themselves from the sun, and other helpful resources.  Skin Cancer Facts  contains the early signs and symptoms of skin cancer, factors that increase the chances of developing the disease, and survival rates for those with the various types of skin cancers. Click on  How to Protect Yourself  for facts about sun damage that you can share with your patients.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For skin cancer statistics, scientific publications, and more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  Web site is a one-stop shop. Click on  Basic Information  to download the  2006/2007 Skin Cancer Prevention and Education Initiative Fact Sheet  [ PDF ]. The  Statistics  link will direct you to incidence and mortality trends related to melanoma of the skin. From the menu on the left of the screen, select  Compare by Race and Ethnicity  or  Compare by State  for a more defined picture of skin cancer's toll. Select  Publications  to be directed to a complete list of skin cancer-related documents in PDF and HTML formats, as well as a complete list of scientific articles on the topic by CDC authors.

Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation's  Web site  gets technical about the various types of skin cancers: melanoma , basal cell , squamous cell , and other precancers . Click on each type for a rundown of each cancer's warning signs, stages, and treatments.  Skin Cancer Facts  has a breakdown of lifetime ultraviolet radiation exposure in the United States by age groups and features easy-to-understand information on sun safety that can be communicated with patients. The Web site also features guidelines for  preventing and treating sunburn , information on  sun-protective clothing , and  anti-aging  facts.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, e-mailCrystal Conde . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  



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