Skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, affects over one million Americans each year, equaling all other cancers combined. Research has shown that many of the 1.3 million cases of skin cancer in the United States are caused by unprotected sun exposure. Therefore, skin cancer, like lung cancer, should be largely preventable through public education and behavior change.
It is estimated that up to 80% of an individual's cumulative sun exposure occurs before age 18. While the numbers of fatal skin cancers are rapidly rising, children are still sunbathing. Because most skin cancer is the result of childhood sun exposure, there is a need to educate families early on about the importance of sun protection.
Skin cancer is preventable: Incorporating safe sun practices into the early years can reduce nearly 80% of skin cancers. Most sun protection messages delivered to date, however, have targeted older children, with few messages aimed directly at parents of neonates, infants, and toddlers. At this early stage, most parents have not yet instilled health habits in their child. With an early start, parents can help their children to develop lifelong sun protection habits.