Deputy Surgeon General Lushniak reaffirms his skin cancer Call to Action

Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH: ‘The real emphasis is to remind people of the importance of this endeavor — skin cancer prevention.'

Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH: ‘The real emphasis is to remind people of the importance of this endeavor — skin cancer prevention.’

During the year-and-a-half that he served as acting surgeon general, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH, put skin cancer prevention front and center.

In July 2014, he proclaimed skin cancer as a national health priority and issued a Call to Action on Skin Cancer Prevention. Now deputy surgeon general, Dr. Lushniak addressed the Academy as a guest speaker during Sunday’s Plenary and discussed skin cancer efforts in a separate interview.

“It’s a big honor for me,” he said. “Since about 1990, I’ve been a member of AAD and this is certainly my biggest event since having the honor to serve as the acting surgeon general of the United States as a dermatologist — in that time span putting forth an initiative on skin cancer prevention.”

The current statistics on skin cancer are alarming: More than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. The Call to Action identifies five goals for the government, public and private organizations, health care providers, and individuals to raise awareness of skin-protection practices:

1. Increase opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings.
“Certainly members of the Academy have been on board with this, but I’m asking people to step up to the next level. We’re talking about the influence we have as educators upon schools and early learning centers, upon employers out there who have outdoor workers.”

2. Provide individuals with the information they need to make informed, healthy choices about UV exposure.
“That certainly should take place every time we see a patient in our office. Sun safety is an issue we should talk about, no matter what that patient is coming in with.”

3. Promote policies that advance the national goal of preventing skin
“Certainly we know dermatologists have been advocates in their local and state efforts to emphasize the idea of shade and the idea of implementing those policies at that local level.”

4. Reduce harms from indoor tanning.
“Forty-four states currently have some law or regulation in place related to indoor tanning, but only 10 of those states have laws that prohibit indoor tanning for everyone younger than 18. That’s an example of where we need to step up to the plate.”

5. Strengthen research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention.
“We need to have data collection. We need to have research to inform us of those decisions that we’re making in the public health policy realm.”

Dr. Lushniak said he wants Annual Meeting attendees to leave San Francisco more united in the fight against skin cancer.

“The real emphasis is to remind people of the importance of this endeavor — skin cancer prevention — and remind our own dermatologists that it is a major public health problem, and there are ways we can take the goals of this call to action and implement them,” he said. “But to implement them correctly, we all have to get on board and work together.”

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