Canadians still choosing not to check for skin cancer despite risks

Melanoma can be successfully treated if caught early but fewer than one in five Canadians have moles checked regularly

VANCOUVER, June 16, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Most Canadians (85 per cent) know that melanoma is a form of skin cancer and yet over one third (35 per cent) still never check for unusual moles/freckles or get them checked, according to a new survey conducted by the Save Your Skin Foundation.

Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide, but because it is one of the only cancers that is clearly visible on the skin, early detection is not only possible, but important for successful treatment.

"It's important to learn the basics of melanoma and regularly check your moles. The earlier anomalies can be brought to your doctor's attention, the greater your chances for survival," explains Kathy Barnard, founder of Save Your Skin Foundation and a melanoma patient herself.

Young people in particular are lax in checking for skin cancer, despite the fact that melanoma is the second most common cancer among those aged 15 to 34.1 According to the survey, almost half (46%) of Canadians in that age group never check for unusual moles or freckles. Even when told that the incidence of melanoma has more than tripled over the past 30 years, just over half (52%) are only a little more likely or no more likely to check moles or freckles.

"This trend is troubling," says Dr. Michelle Withers a dermatologist in Vancouver. "Melanoma is a survivable cancer, but early detection is key. All Canadians, especially younger ones, should be aware of the necessity of doing a simple monthly mole check."

Overall, Canadians are not taking enough action to detect this highly visible cancer early on. Of those who do take steps to spot melanoma, by checking for unusual moles or freckles, almost half (49%) rely on their family doctor as their primary method of detection. And less than one in five (17%) get or do the monthly mole checks as recommended by the Canadian Dermatology Association.

With summer officially underway next week, the Save Your Skin Foundation wants to continue to emphasize the importance of noticing the early signs of melanoma and to encourage everyone to routinely check themselves and their loved ones.

"Make it a fun habit," suggests Kathy Barnard. "If you are a parent, teach your kids young, take pictures, make a scrapbook, so they know what to look for and are aware of the disease. Between adults, the practice can become a welcome romantic fixture in everyday busy lives."

For more information about melanoma and how to properly check your moles, please visit

About Melanoma in Canada

Every year, thousands of Canadians are diagnosed with melanoma, with the incidence of the disease increasing faster than that of any other cancer. One in 74 men and 1 in 90 women is expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime; 1 in 284 men and 1 in 486 women will die of it. It is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, causing 75% of deaths associated with skin cancer. Currently in Canada, there is no treatment proven to extend the lives of people diagnosed with metastatic (advanced) melanoma, despite the rising incidence of the disease.

About the Save Your Skin Foundation

The Save Your Skin Foundation was created by family, friends and colleagues of founder Kathy Barnard, who is currently battling melanoma. Save Your Skin is a Canadian-based not-for-profit foundation. Through events and other initiatives, the Foundation focuses on raising funds for education and awareness, providing emotional and financial support to those dealing with skin cancer, and on supporting the ongoing research and treatment of skin cancer. Donations go towards providing critical and timely treatments, as well as ongoing education, research, and awareness initiatives. For additional information please visit or contact Marion PĂ©role at 604-734-4223.