Summer is the time for fun under the sun. But overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays any time of the year can cause serious skin damage and even skin cancer. According to the World Health Organization, more than two million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers and some 132,000 cases of malignant melanoma (the most fatal kind of skin cancer) occur worldwide each year.
"Merck approaches the issue of skin health from many angles," said Michael Rosenblatt, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer at Merck. "For decades, our research has led to important advances in understanding the effects of the sun and the need for sun protection. Throughout the process, we help educate the public about suncare and ways people can reduce their risk for skin cancers."
Merck's legacy of innovation and leadership in skin health research goes back almost 40 years with the founding of the Coppertone® Solar Research Center, one of the world’s largest facilities for testing the effectiveness and performance of sunscreen products. The research teams at the Center have pioneered many of the most significant developments in sun protection. Those developments included the first use of the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) on sunscreen product labels, a measurement that gauges the effectiveness of sunscreen in preventing sunburn, and the first sunscreen products to protect against both UVB and UVA rays.
"Over the years, we have learned so much about how damaging ultraviolet radiation is to our skin. Our scientists are continually conducting research to find new ways to meet consumer needs and to provide greater awareness about the harmful effects of the sun, and ways to help protect against them" said Dr. Patty Agin, scientific affairs leader, Global Skincare, Merck Consumer Care.
Scientists are concerned about sun protection for good reasons.
"Skin cancer is an epidemic and it is more common than any other type of cancer. The good news is that it is often a preventable disease. Unfortunately, many consumers still see challenges in adopting healthy suncare behaviors, either because they still believe a tan is attractive or because they don't understand the risks of not protecting their skin," said David J. Leffell, M.D., professor of Dermatology and Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and a consultant to Merck. "Knowledge is a powerful tool in empowering consumers."
The commitment to educate the public about the need to protect skin health drives Merck’s suncare research team and extends to our skin cancer research team. Our diverse group of oncologists, biologists and chemists use a multi-disciplinary approach to identify and evaluate potential therapies for skin cancers.
Merck's legacy of skin cancer research began more than 20 years ago in Schering-Plough's melanoma research labs, and continues today in the collective work that is contributing new understanding about skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma."Years of scientific focus combined with innovative research technology has allowed Merck scientists to evaluate new treatment options for melanoma," said Dr. David Mauro, executive director of clinical research for Merck Oncology. "Yet, we recognize there is still more work that needs to be done to treat this and other skin cancers. We're committed to contributing to that effort."
One step toward attaining long-term skin health is being vigilant about sun exposure all year round. The Skin Cancer Foundation provides extensive guidelines on steps individuals can take to protect themselves from the sun throughout the year.
While, according to ASCO, skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, studies show almost 100% of the earliest, most shallow melanomas are cured by surgery, if found early. The Shade Foundation has produced an award-winning video that demonstrates how to perform a skin self-exam. This organization recommends pairing monthly self–exams with a yearly skin cancer screening by a doctor. Also learn about the ABCDE rules for evaluating skin changes.
Get the facts to help you and your family practice healthy suncare behaviors.