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SunPass – Healthy Sun Fun for Children

A prevention program for sun protection


The number of skin cancers has been rising steadily since the 1970s. Sunburns in early childhood and recurring high levels of UV exposure are significant risk factors for skin cancer. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the most important risk factor for the development of the two most common types of skin cancer, "light skin cancer" (actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma) and "black skin cancer", known as malignant melanoma. According to current estimates by the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology, almost 300,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with light skin cancer every year, and more than 35,000 people develop malignant melanoma each year in Germany. Younger people of working age are increasingly affected.

There is hardly any other cancer that can be prevented so immediately by targeted preventive measures.

In addition, children's skin is thinner and more sensitive than that of adults. Because the skin's own UV protective barrier develops primarily from the age of two and is only completely completed in teenage years. This is why children have a very short time to protect themselves from UV radiation - only five to ten minutes.

Damage to the skin from sunburn is even more dangerous in children than in adults because the sensitive stem cells in children are much closer to the skin surface and are damaged with every sunburn. The growth of the skin leads to permanent cell division of these damaged cells, which then multiply. This increases the risk of developing skin cancer. A sunburn may visually disappear after a few days, but the damage lasts for a lifetime, because the skin never forgets!

This is why the 'SunPass - Healthy Sun Fun for Children' project was developed in 2010 by the European Skin Cancer Foundation (ESCF). The prevention program has been implemented by 13 of the 16 regional cancer societies since 2012 and has been continuously developed and adapted to the circumstances in the various federal states.

All materials are kept up-to-date in coordination with the professional associations of dermatologists, the specialist working groups, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection and the cooperation partners in the federal states.

Today, girls and boys often spend a large part of the day in daycare. The responsibility for sun protection is therefore increasingly becoming the responsibility of the educational staff. In order to sensitize parents, children and educational professionals to the topic of sun protection, we are therefore addressing the kindergartens directly with the skin cancer prevention project “SunPass - healthy sun fun for children”. The prevention project is implemented directly in the children's environment, the day care center, in order to practice appropriate health behavior as early as possible. Suitable sun protection measures and behavioral changes can significantly reduce the UV exposure of children and thus lower the risk of skin cancer in the long term. the Interview with Professor Stockfleth