In the most concentrated effort to promote sun safety and skin cancer prevention in the 35-year history of the Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS), volunteer dermatologists in three states recently provided free skin cancer screenings and sun safety education to spectators, professional athletes and media members at four major golf and tennis events throughout the month of August. In total, WDS members conducted 569 free skin checks, with an overall average referral rate of 29% for further diagnosis/biopsy of suspected skin cancers.
This bustling period of outreach involved the largest-ever assemblage of 52 volunteers, accomplishing several firsts for the WDS community service project known as Play Safe in the Sun–which is currently in its second season of a 3-year campaign supported by L’Oreal USA.
“As the WDS Play Safe in the Sun initiative continues to grow and flourish, L’Oreal is proud to be an integral part of the project. The program’s expansion to men, women and young adults in both golf and tennis further gets the message out about sun safety education and skin cancer prevention,” comments Henric Sark, General Manager of Active Cosmetics Division for L’Oreal USA
Collective efforts led to the following ground- breaking outcomes:
- Skin cancer screenings were expanded beyond tennis fans to include first-time access to professional tennis players and members of the media at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open, chaired by Allison Moosally, MD (Cleveland, OH). Volunteers broke the WDS campaign’s one-day screening record with 157 skin cancer checks performed. 20% of the people screened were referred to dermatologists for further diagnosis/biopsy of suspicious sites presumptively identified as skin cancers.
- WDS paved further inroads into the golf world with an inaugural outreach for junior girl golfers at the PING Junior Solheim Cup in Aurora, IL, offering free skin cancer screenings and sun safety education to the young members of the American and European teams, chaired by Amy Derick, MD (Barrington, IL). 22% of the teens who were screened were referred to dermatologists for further diagnosis/biopsy of suspicious sites on their skin. Dr. Derick taught the girls about developing daily sun safety habits, so crucial at a time when melanoma is on the upswing in younger females.
- Volunteers reached out to record crowds of 120,000 at the world-class LPGA Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove, IL, co-chaired by Jonith Breadon, MD and Aisha Sethi, MD (both of Chicago), performing 176 skin cancer screenings, with the highest referral rate of 42% for further diagnosis/biopsy.
- Portland, OR dermatologists returned for the third time to the LPGA Safeway Classic, chaired by Phoebe Rich, MD (Portland, OR) to conduct outreach in an area with a proven need. Physicians screened 218 golf enthusiasts, LPGA Tour Players and members of the media, leading to a 30% referral rate.
- 329 sun damage assessments were conducted at these events utilizing a UV reflectance camera that reveals photo-damage underneath the surface of the skin that is not visible with the naked eye. Without fail, individuals expressed surprise at the degree of sun damage evidenced in these photographs. Volunteers provided sun safety tips to encourage skin protection as a way of life.
- 35,000 free samples of broad-spectrum sunscreen were distributed at the four venues.
- 52 WDS volunteers, including board-certified dermatologists, medical residents and students, nurses, corporate reps and family members rallied through the month to promote sun safety and skin cancer prevention
Michel McDonald, MD (Nashville) and Adrienne Stewart, MD (Denver) co-chair the WDS Service Committee, which oversees the award-winning Play Safe in the Sun campaign. The next WDS outreach will take place during the LPGA Tour Championship in Houston, TX, from November 20-22, chaired by Deb McFarlane, MD and Lucie White, MD.