A young man’s crusade brings awareness of skin cancer to local youth

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When Scott Shrager’s mom was diagnosed with Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, he did not just stand around.

He researched about the disease that affects more than one million Americans and immersed himself in information about skin cancer.

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Shrager would go on to form a non-profit group called Know Melanoma, Inc., which focused on clear information and education about skin cancer.

“A lot of the resources I came across online either had information that was too hard to understand or was outdated. The point is, that I thought skin cancer education was too inaccessible,” he explained. “I learned that we need to prioritize our skin cancer education for youth, because it is an unmet need.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer affects more than three million Americans a year. Skin cancer is also the most common cancer in the United States, officials said.

Since, Shrager created Know Melanoma in 2017 he has presented, created and invented ways to better promote awareness not just on skin cancer but sunscreen.

“Up until this summer, I realized the key thing that I had been missing was actually engaging with local youth. I had not really gone out into the local community and talked to people,” he said.

In the summer of 2019, he has done just that by speaking to more than 500 local youth in Princeton. Those youths include Johnson Park Elementary School, John Witherspoon Middle School, PNRA Rowing Camp, YWCA Ballet Camp and Firefly Tennis Camp students.

After the presentations he hands out multiple items for people to take home with them. They include a UV bracelet that can tell you when it is time to apply sunscreen and information about his tool the sunscreen calculator.

Continuing in his awareness efforts he will be presenting to youth throughout the upcoming months.

Shrager’s presentations vary in audience and break down information differently for each group. He speaks to children, peers his age and adults.

“When I realized there was this unmet need, I just took all the information I knew and expanded it. The goal of my presentations is to show people the value of preventing skin cancer,” Shrager said.

During his journey to promote education he developed a tool called the sunscreen calculator.

He created this tool from writing in one of his notebooks.

“I came across this thing called the sunscreen application density standard. When a sunscreen company says their product has SPF 100, the way they figure that out is by taking participants and spraying sunscreen on them to figure out how long it takes for them to get a sunburn,” Shrager explained. “There has to be a standard and that standard is two milligrams of sunscreen per square millimeter of skin. That is how they figure out SPF. That is hard to figure out. We actually use between .5 and 1 milligrams, so we at best are using half of the sunscreen we actually need.”

He said the sunscreen calculator tells people exactly the amount of sunscreen they need to be protected and is located on his non-profits website.

“It is hard to find high SPF sunscreens that contain safe ingredients. I explain to people that I present to which sunscreens are safe and better to use,” Shrager said. “I also highlight that it does not matter your ethnicity or your race anyone can get skin cancer.”

He will be attending a summer conference in New York City organized by the American Academy of Dermatology later this month. He said he will try to meet with executives to help in his effort to make certain people are using the correct amount of sunscreen.

Shrager is also hosting a special event on July 13 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He will at the event model how to use the Sunscreen Calculator for anybody interested and also distribute free sunscreen.

When it comes to skin cancer awareness Shrager hopes to make an impact with his work and has taken a Gap year before college to further bridge together what he calls the lack of youth outreach.

In his eyes there is a lot more work left to be done.

For more information about Know Melanoma Inc., visit www.knowmelanoma.org.

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