According to the newspaper, data compiled by the National Cancer Institute over the past two decades showed that the melanoma incidence in Hawaii has risen more sharply than the U.S. overall upward trend, suggesting more local awareness is needed:
Clearly, there's a need for better public outreach -- particularly to children, who have a lifetime of preventive care ahead of them. Skin damage is cumulative, so early intervention is critical.
Parents hold a key responsibility here, but the state should help reinforce this. The Health Department has run skin-awareness campaigns with televised spots, but a more sustained program is needed.
Skin cancer is the most preventable form of that deadly disease. A state drenched in sun throughout the year needs to get that message out as loudly and clearly as possible.
Some steps towards better public outreach have already been taken. During the 2007 session, the legislature passed a resolution to encourage the Dept. of Health to develop a skin cancer education and prevention program, to collect data on how widely skin cancer affects Hawaii's residents, and to work with the Dept. of Education to implement the program in all Hawaii public schools.
Further discussion about ways to bring attention to and prevent this deadly disease will undoubtably surface during the 2008 session.