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Former Pro Football Coach Bill Cowher Tells Men “No Excuses” When it Comes to Getting Screened for Melanoma

Second year of Melanoma Exposed™ offers free skin cancer screenings at pro football events nationwide


Photo by Cancer Type

A new survey shows that when it comes to getting screened for skin cancer, one in six men avoid going for fear of the results they will receive. This may be one reason why men are almost twice as likely as women to die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and nearly two-thirds don’t see a point in going to a dermatologist unless something is wrong, even while incidence rates continue to rise. This can often be too late, as melanoma is almost always curable if caught early and treated properly, but it gets much harder to treat in advanced stages.

To address this lack of action and empower men to take an active role in their skin health, former professional football coach Bill Cowher is teaming up for a second time with leading melanoma advocacy groups – Melanoma International Foundation, Melanoma Research Alliance, Melanoma Research Foundation, The Skin Cancer Foundation – and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company on the educational campaign Melanoma Exposed: Screen. Protect. Know. Tell.  

The campaign is working with five professional football teams to spread the word about melanoma and bring free skin cancer screenings to the public. Last year, these events screened nearly 2,000 people, identifying 26 potential melanomas, and this year the goal is to screen even more.

“A skin cancer screening is an easy, painless procedure that may just be the most important 10 minutes of a person’s life – especially men."

In year two, the campaign is encouraging men to put their excuses aside and make skin cancer screenings a priority. The key is to get screened regularly and catch melanoma in its early stages.

“As a former football coach, one of my biggest lessons to my players was about being accountable for their actions. I apply this ‘no excuses’ attitude to my health as well. There should never be any excuses for not taking the best possible care of your health,” said Coach Cowher. “Getting your skin screened by a dermatologist is quick and easy – it takes about 10 minutes. Men need to face the truth and learn the facts about melanoma. By not getting screened early and routinely, they are putting themselves at greater risk.”

The Melanoma Exposed strategy is simple: Screen – get routine skin cancer screenings and conduct self-exams; Protect your skin by limiting your exposure to UV rays year round; Know your risk factors, such as family history and number of moles; and most importantly, Tell others the facts about melanoma and encourage routine skin cancer screenings.

Now in its second year, the campaign continues to spread this message, and on April 25, 2013, it kicked off the first of several free public skin cancer screenings that will be held throughout the year with the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

“When I learned about the Melanoma Exposed campaign last year, I made sure the whole team received a skin cancer screening as part of their annual physical, and we will continue these screenings for every player moving forward,” said Ronnie Barnes, senior vice president for medical services for the New York Giants. “A skin cancer screening is an easy, painless procedure that may just be the most important 10 minutes of a person’s life – especially men. I am glad the Giants and other teams are back in the game to support this important cause for a second year.”

Exposing Melanoma Survey Findings
Sponsored by the Melanoma Exposed campaign, the 2013 Exposing Melanoma national survey was conducted to shed light on the barriers that keep men from getting screened for skin cancer. Key findings showed:

  • Top reasons men avoid getting screened for skin cancer are:  they simply don’t have the time to get screened (42%), they think it’s a woman’s issue (31%) and they believe it’s a waste of time (30%)
  • Men would choose to do many activities before making a doctor’s appointment if they had an extra 10 minutes, such as: chores (26%), napping (23%), snacking (22%) and checking their social networks (21%)
  • 14% of men rank “skin screening” as one of the lowest priorities for doctor appointments, coming after an eye exam (39%), dental exam (35%) and blood test (29%)

“Last year, when we conducted skin cancer screenings at football games, many men did not want to get screened because they were afraid of what we might find, and our survey supports this sentiment,” said Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University of School of Medicine. “Men don’t get screened as often as they should, so we are catching it later when the cancer may have already progressed, which can be scary. Although I tend to see more women in my practice, I diagnose more men with the more aggressive stages of melanoma. The key with melanoma is to catch it early when it is most treatable.”

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To learn more about these free skin cancer screenings, visit