What is melanoma?

  • Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, but if diagnosed early, it is almost 100 percent curable.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Every eight minutes, someone in the United States will be given a melanoma diagnosis, and every hour, someone will die from the disease. [Melanoma Research Foundation]
  • Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide.
  • The greatest contributor (approximately 65 percent) to melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds. It is likely that a combination of family history, genetics and environmental factors are to blame. However, since melanoma can occur in all melanocytes throughout the body, even those that are never exposed to the sun, UV light cannot be solely responsible for a diagnosis. [Melanoma Research Foundation]
  • In men, melanoma often develops on the upper body, between the shoulders and hips and on the head and neck.  In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs and feet.  However, melanoma can develop anywhere, including under finger nails and even in the eyes.  []
  • In its early stages, melanoma can be successfully removed and monitored by regular skin screenings. In fact, survival rates can exceed 90 percent to 95 percent in early stage melanoma.
  • Carefully examine your skin once a month. If you notice any changes, consult a dermatologist right away.
  • A sudden or continuous change in the appearance of a mole is a sign that you should see your doctor. The ABCD rule can help you remember the symptoms of melanoma: A (Asymmetry) B (Border Irregularity) C (Color) D (Diameter) [American Melanoma Foundation]

Use Safe Sun Practices

A message from Dr. John Kirkwood, Director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute & member of the Woiner Foundation’s 3-2-1 Ride development staff:
“The use of effective sunscreen/sunblock is recommended when spending time outdoors.  We suggest products that contain titanium dioxide/zinc oxide (‘helioplex’), along with protective clothing, including hats, that may minimize direct exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when impact of the sun’s UV is greatest.”
Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases its list of the best sunscreens.  Visit for help choosing the best product for your skin.

What is pancreatic cancer?

  • Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers.  Survival rates for pancreatic cancer have remained in the single digits for more than 40 years. Just 2-10 percent of those diagnosed survive five years.
  • Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer in men and women around the world, with an estimated 367,000 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2015.
  • Unlike many cancers, there are no early detection tools or effective treatments for pancreatic cancer.
  • Cancer of the pancreas is sometimes called a “silent” disease because symptoms are not usually present in early stages. Many patients have advanced disease by the time it becomes noticeable to the patient and doctors. If symptoms are present, they are often vague.  Learn more about symptoms to look for on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s website.
  • The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet well understood. Research studies have identified certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood that an individual will develop pancreatic cancer.  Read about these risk factors on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s website.
  • Five things everyone should know:
    • The pancreas lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It works to help the body use and store energy from food by producing hormones to control blood sugar levels and digestive enzymes to break down food.
    • Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow out of control, forming a mass of tissue called a tumor.
    • Early diagnosis is key: patients who are diagnosed in time for surgery have a much higher likelihood of surviving five years.
    • Symptoms – including abdominal or back pain, weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes – are often subtle and are generally initially attributed to other less serious and more common conditions. Seventy-one percent of people are unable to name a symptom – can you?
    • The cause of the majority of pancreatic cancer cases is unknown. For the few known risk factors (e.g., familial history, smoking, obesity, age), more research is needed to understand their direct relationship to the disease. The known behavioral factors impact only a minority of pancreatic cancer cases.
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