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MD Anderson researches sun protection practices, receives donor support

Monday December 9, 2013
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Children of melanoma survivors were more likely to wear hats and reapply sunscreen after receiving personalized stories about sun-related health risks from melanoma survivors, according to new research.

Behavioral science researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston conducted a randomized trial to determine if a sun protection program for melanoma survivors and their children was more effective than standard educational materials available to the general public.

“This study is the first to examine a sun protection intervention for children of melanoma survivors,” Ellen R. Gritz, PhD, a study researcher and chairwoman of the behavioral science department at MD Anderson, said in a news release. “This is significant in that the risk for children of melanoma survivors is almost doubled because of possible shared genotypic and phenotypic factors.”

The new findings were reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The researchers sought to determine whether a sun protection intervention would impact melanoma survivors’ attitudes and beliefs related to their children’s sun protection, decrease children’s sunburns and increase children’s sun protection. More than 2,000 potential candidates from the MD Anderson patient registry were screened for study eligibility with 340 melanoma survivors who had age-appropriate children participating in the trial.

The study randomized melanoma survivors into two groups: one receiving standard educational materials consisting of health-related brochures on sun protection, physical activity and nutrition, and one receiving the sun protection intervention that included print booklets and a DVD featuring melanoma survivors’ personal stories and motivations for protecting their children from the sun.

Melanoma survivors completed telephone interviews at baseline and at one month and four months after intervention. Overall, the intervention increased sunscreen reapplication and the use of wide-brimmed hats in the children, according to the release. The research was funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society and supported by the National Cancer Institute.

In other news, Charles and Daneen Stiefel of Raleigh, N.C., recently pledged $10 million to the Head and Neck Cancer Center at MD Anderson, according to a news release. The gift will support research and treatment programs. In honor of their generosity, the institution will name the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Center for Head and Neck Cancer.

Charles Stiefel, former chair and CEO of Stiefel Laboratories, serves on the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors and is active on a committee that advises the institution on clinical business issues. The couple established the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Chair in Cancer Research in 2009 with a $1 million gift in gratitude for the care Charles received as an MD Anderson cancer patient.


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