ASA Renews Support of SPOTS Program

February 15, 2023

SPOTS is a community outreach program designed to teach students from preschool through high school about the importance of early detection and prevention of skin cancer.

The American Skin Association (ASA) announced the renewal of its support for the SPOTS (Sun Protection Outreach Teaching by Students) program. 

SPOTS is a community outreach program designed to teach students from preschool through high school about the importance of early detection and prevention of skin cancer.

The comprehensive program, taught by medical school students, teaches early detection and prevention measures for skin cancer in an effort to increase knowledge and positively affect young people's attitudes and behaviors towards sun protection. SPOTS, run by Dr. Sofia Chaudhry of Saint Louis University and Drs. Laurin Council and Lynn Cornelius of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, aims to educate medical/allied health students in sun protection methods, teaching strategies, and the basics of cutaneous malignancies. These methods are used to better prepare future dermatologists for educating and treating current and future patients.

"ASA is excited to continue its fifth year of support for the SPOTS program. This worthwhile partnership is part of our mission to educate young people on the importance of sun safety and caring for their skin," says ASA Chairman Howard P. Milstein,” in a news release. 

With ASA's support, the SPOTS program expanded its teaching platforms by developing a virtual curriculum to allow these critical efforts to continue during the global pandemic. This new platform has effectively allowed the program to expand its reach into new communities.

Since July 2021,, approximately 8,000 students have received education on skin cancer and protection through SPOTS. Two programs were developed to target students in differing age groups: the 12+ program for adolescent students and the early childhood program for elementary students. The 12+ program is taught in class and via Zoom, along with the Skin of Color teaching points and modules, videos and pamphlets. The early childhood program uses more age-appropriate content with animated videos, posters, bookmarks, and pamphlets that target parents. Educational materials have been translated into Spanish to reach a wider population of students and their families. The Skin of Color modules and Spanish translation of materials have succeeded in making SPOTS more inclusive and able to reach a wider, more diverse community. 

In 2022, SPOTS announced two initiatives. The first is a production of a new PSA video filmed with Drs. Chaudhry and Council and four patients, who share their personal stories to encourage better skin protection. In addition to this PSA, the SPOTS team reported that the Multi-Institution Research Study to evaluate the effect of this program in the clinical setting has been approved at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. This study is underway and utilizes pre- and post-program surveys to assess students' knowledge, attitudes and behaviors towards sun protection. In addition, a separate study was conducted this past year employing SPOTS educational materials in a clinical setting. The impact of skin cancer education, using the SPOTS educational pamphlet, for patients with skin of color was evaluated. The intervention led to an 80% increase in correctly identifying melanoma's warning signs. 

"We are grateful to ASA and its Education Council for their fifth year of support of SPOTS. We look forward continued growth of this critical program to more communities and its students," says Dr. Cornelius. 

Over the past 26 years, there has been a notable increase in the incidence of melanoma in children, particularly in adolescents. ASA's mission includes championing skin health among children by educating youth and parents on the importance of skin health and sun safety. 

"We are excited to continue our partnership with Dr. Cornelius and the SPOTS program and look forward to the program's continued growth," adds ASA President, Dr. David Norris.

"Sun protection is the easiest and most effective way to diminish the risk of skin cancer and to avoid an acceleration of the skin aging process. Increasing awareness of behaviors and education of the consequences of sun exposure is at the heart of the mission of the American Skin Association," adds Humberto C. Antunes, Co-Chair of the ASA's Education Council.

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