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Notice to Readers: National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month ---May 2001

May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. This month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of prevention, early detection, and treatment of skin cancer, including basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2001, approximately 1.3 million new cases of curable basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas will be detected, approximately 51,400 new cases of malignant melanoma will be diagnosed, and an estimated 7800 persons will die from melanoma and 2000 from other skin cancers (1). Although death rates from basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are low, these cancers can cause damage and disfigurement if left untreated. However, when detected early, approximately 95% of these carcinomas can be cured.

Malignant melanoma, the most rapidly increasing form of cancer in the United States, causes approximately 75% of all skin cancer deaths. This disease can spread to other organs, most commonly to the lungs and liver. Malignant melanoma diagnosed at an early stage usually can be cured; melanoma diagnosed at a late stage is more likely to spread and cause death.

CDC's skin cancer prevention and education efforts, including the Choose Your Cover campaign aimed at young persons, encourage all persons to protect themselves from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays year-round. The goals include influencing social norms related to sun protection and tanned skin, and improving awareness, knowledge, and behaviors related to skin cancer. CDC's efforts focus on 1) informing the public that even a few serious sunburns can increase a person's risk for skin cancer, and 2) promoting the Choose Your Cover sun protection options: seeking shade, covering up, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and using sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 15 or higher and has both UVA and UVB protection. Additional information about Choose Your Cover skin cancer prevention campaign is available at or telephone, (770) 488-3070.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures, January 2001. Atlanta, Georgia: American Cancer Society, 2001.

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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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This page last reviewed 5/10/2001