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What CDC Is Doing About Skin Cancer

CDC provides leadership for nationwide efforts to reduce illness and death caused by skin cancer, which is likely the most common form of cancer in the United States.

The Burning Truth Communication Initiative

The Burning Truth communication initiative encourages young people to keep their skin healthy and beautiful for life by protecting themselves from too much exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds. The initiative addresses common myths about tanning.

Preventing Skin Cancer Through Reduction of Indoor Tanning

Skin cancer is an urgent public health problem, and if current trends continue, one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime. Indoor tanning increases the risk of getting skin cancer, including melanoma (which can be deadly) and non-melanoma skin cancers (which are usually treatable but can be disfiguring and costly to treat). To bring attention to indoor tanning as a public health problem, CDC scientists published two papers in a special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine to discuss ways to reduce indoor tanning and prevent future cases of skin cancer.

Journal Supplement About Melanoma

CDC published a journal supplement about melanoma in the United States. Several articles describe patterns of melanoma, and others focus on how melanoma can be prevented. Participants include partners from the state cancer registries, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and academic centers.

Skin Cancer Risk Behavior Research

CDC is using data from nationwide surveys to learn more about skin cancer risk behaviors among the U.S. population. Two recent studies used data from the National Health Interview Survey: one looked at indoor tanning among U.S. adults, and the other examined sun-protective behaviors and sunburn among adults under age 30. Data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey were used to examine sunscreen use and indoor tanning among high school students, as well as factors related to indoor tanning among male high school students.

See citations to CDC's research on skin cancer.

Sun Safety for America’s Youth Toolkit

Each local comprehensive cancer control (CCC) program must develop a plan that addresses a wide variety of cancer prevention and control priorities. This often includes skin cancer prevention. The Sun Safety for America's Youth Toolkit is a resource for CCC programs interested in engaging schools and other education partners in sun safety efforts.

Measures for Sunless Tanning Use

In December 2005, CDC and a group of skin cancer experts met to discuss common measures of sun protection and tanning behaviors, with an aim of developing a consensus-based set of core items to measure indoor and sunless tanning use. After reaching a consensus, the core measures were cognitively tested and revised. The recommendations were published in the February 2008 edition of the Archives of Dermatology.1 2

Strategies for Preventing Skin Cancer

CDC worked with other federal agencies and the independent Task Force on Community Preventive Services to review studies of community-based interventions targeting skin cancer prevention. Recommended interventions are published on the Guide to Community Preventive Services Web site.

School Guidelines

The Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer were designed to provide schools with a comprehensive approach to preventing skin cancer among adolescents and young people.

Shade Planning Manual

The Shade Planning for America's Schools [PDF-1.2MB] manual helps schools ensure school grounds have adequate shade, which is part of the Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer.


1Lazovich D, Stryker JE, Mayer JA, Hillhouse J, Dennis LK, Pichon L, Patago S, Heckman C, Olson A, Cokkinides V, Thompson K. Measuring nonsolar tanning behavior. Archives of Dermatology 2008;144(2):225–230.

2Glanz K, Yaroch AL, Dancel M, Saraiya M, Crane LA, Buller DB, Manne S, O’Riordan DL, Heckman CJ, Hay J, Robinson JK. Measures of sun exposure and sun protection practices for behavioral and epidemiologic research. Archives of Dermatology 2008;144(2):217–222.

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