Intended for healthcare professionals


Skin cancer: in your face

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 05 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1564
  1. June K Robinson, professor of medicine and pathology,
  2. Darrell S Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology.
  1. Loyola University, Chicago
  2. New York University, USA

    In 1999 in the United States there will be over a million new cases of skin cancer, and, whereas the incidence for all other cancers in the United States has stabilised or declined, the incidence of melanoma continues to rise, especially for white men. Since 1985 the American Academy of Dermatology, a non-profit organisation with 12 000 physician members, has run a skin cancer control programme aimed at promoting awareness of melanoma and persuading people to practise sun protection. This year the association has worked with Campbell Mithun Esty, an advertising agency, to develop a particularly striking message about preventing skin cancer.

    The new advertisement, being shown on television, uses a case history of a man with deforming skin cancer to emphasise the importance of sun protection. It adopts what has come to be known as the “tombstone approach,” which is characterised by a generalised threat of death or destruction from a particular type of behaviour. This approach has been used in smoking campaigns in …

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