By David Himmel
The Chicago Bears have teamed up with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to help protect fans from the dangers of skin cancer by offering free skin cancer screenings at the team’s Meijer Family Fest at Soldier Field on Saturday, August 2, from 3 – 7 p.m. The screenings are part of AAD’s SPOT me campaign, which provides complimentary screenings from board-certified dermatologists and information about prevention and detection.
“Our fans are loyal and spend their time braving the elements, including hot and humid days in the sun, to support our team. It was important for us to bring skin cancer prevention to their attention and do everything we can to make sure our fans are staying healthy,” says Bears’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Hibbs.
Skin cancer cases are on the rise. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime according to AAD. And by next year, it is estimated that one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime. Currently, melanoma kills one American every hour on average.
“Of the 50 states, Illinois is projected to have the 10th highest number of new cases of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—with an estimated 2,440 new cases expected in 2014,” says Ashish Bhatia, MD, associate professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“Melanoma should be on every fan’s mind,” says Hibbs. “Of the 61,500 fans who attend a single Chicago Bears game, 12,300 will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.”
“Men need to be especially careful, as men over 50 are at a greater risk of developing the disease than the general public,” Bhatia says.
Screenings take about 10 minutes and can be the difference between life and death. Melanoma detected early and treated before spreading to the lymph nodes gives people a five-year survival rate of 98 percent. Other forms of skin cancer that may be less deadly, but remain destructive, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are also detectable during screenings.
In addition to the SPOT me campaign, the Bears’ preseason event will have games and activities throughout the afternoon with the opportunity to watch a Bears practice. Fans who receive a skin cancer screening are eligible to win autographed Bears memorabilia.
“We want to educate our fans about this preventable disease and get them screened, as skin cancer is almost always curable when detected early,” Hibbs says.