Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and costs associated with treatment can be expensive. Every year in America, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined: in fact, over 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. (SCF).
The financial burden associated with the treatment of skin cancer can be great, and often results in out-of-pocket expenses. The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion. Even sunburn can be costly: One 2017 study found that more than 33,000 emergency room visits for sunburn are reported each year for a total estimated cost of $11.2 million. At the individual level, a visit to the emergency room for sunburn results in an average bill that tops $1,100, according to research cited by NeutrogenaMD.
The Role of The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation originated in 1979 as an educational organization with a goal to save and improve lives, by empowering individuals with information and resources to help prevent, detect and treat skin cancer. The Foundation collaborates with many organizations to develop programs that simplify awareness about a common yet complex disease. Three key programs include:
The Seal of Recommendation: The Skin Cancer Foundation grants their Seal of Recommendation to sun protection products such as sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, window film, and clothing. Companies are eligible to submit products (including product data and testing results) for consideration, and currently over 100 companies participate. “Look for the seal” on labels, packaging, online and in advertisements.
The Big See®: This is a public service campaign to educate individuals about what to look for in skin checks: is it new, changing or unusual? If so, get it checked. The simple call to action helps drive awareness without overwhelming and complicated medical terminology.
Destination Healthy Skin: A mobile education and screening program where local dermatologists volunteer to provide free skin cancer screenings onboard the Foundation’s customized RV. This program offers screenings for anyone, including those that may not have access to other affordable medical care. Additionally, the RV acts as a traveling billboard, delivering information to a wide audience. Over the years, Destination Healthy Skin has also received substantial media coverage, such as segments on the Today Show, providing another venue for education and communication.
Skin Cancer and the Work Environment
There’s a general understanding of the risks that recreational activities can pose, such as long days at the beach without a sun umbrella, or the use of tanning beds. But any prolonged exposure can cause harm, and there is an opportunity to better recognize and address the risks in the workplace as well. To this end, Sean McDermott, Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills, partners with the Skin Cancer Foundation to raise occupational awareness by discussing how skin cancer has impacted his life and the lives of others he has worked with, because of the significant amount of sun exposure football coaches have on a daily basis.
In addition to jobs that require consistent outdoor work, other types of occupational risk that may be less widely understood, are jobs that require regular exposure to high altitudes (pilots and astronauts) or exposure to toxins (firefighters).
Across all industries, there are workplace impacts due to lost productivity, absences, and insurance costs associated with a diagnosis of and treatment for skin cancer. Every year, Americans lose more than $100 million in work productivity because of restricted activity or absence from work due to skin cancer.
How Employers Can Help
Employers can join the fight to prevent skin cancer, and subsequently decrease the financial burden of treatment costs, in a variety of ways.
Employers can offer outside workers protection by supplying them with sunscreen, and outfitting them with protective clothing and hats. Additionally, employers can look for ways to provide employees who work outside with shady spots for breaks, or perhaps even schedule work shifts during non-midday hours, when the sun is most potent.
As Dan notes, because this is such a common disease that can impact anyone, medically and financially, employers can promote awareness no matter the industry. Share information through emails, and prominently display posters that stress the importance of daily protection, and the impact of even incidental sun over time. Consider webinars or in-person conversations with local dermatologists to reinforce behaviors. x
Even technology plays a role now, and one example of that is The Skin Cancer Foundation’s partnership with Miiskin, an app for self-exams that allows an individual to take pictures and track any skin changes.
The Skin Cancer Foundation can be a resource for employers looking for more general information, and for educational tools for the workplace.
If you’d like to connect with The Skin Cancer Foundation, or learn more about the programs above such as the upcoming locations of Destination Healthy Skin, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Dan Latore and The Skin Cancer Foundation are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Brella Insurance Inc. To learn more about Brella, check out our plan and get in touch.