UAMS Gives Teachers Skin Cancer Education Tools

Robert Burns, Ph.D., guides Tiffany Kent, seventh grade teacher, (left), Sue Espinoza, health outreach coordinator at the Arkansas Human Development Corp., (center) and Megan Olson, seventh grade teacher, through a hands-on activity during the PIHS workshop.

Burns talks about the dangers of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation on the skin.

Rachel Bearden, eighth-12th grade teacher, and Steven Del Rio, tobacco cessation specialist, perform a function of the body's cells with paper plates, during the workshop.

Aug. 1, 2014 | Teachers collected valuable teaching tools on cancer and healthy skin to use in their classrooms at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) July 24.

UAMS’ Partners in Health Sciences Program (PIHS) hosted the professional development workshop “Biology of Cancer and Healthy Skin” for fourth through 12th grade teachers and health care professionals where they received continuing education hours and a resource kit with skin models and other visuals.

Robert Burns, Ph.D., director of the program discussed the damaging effects of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation and the formation of three major types of skin cancer and their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

It is important to teach teachers how to inform their students about skin cancer because the rate of malignant melanoma is increasing 7 percent every year, Burns said. It is the No. 1 cancer killer of women ages 25 -29 and the No. 2 cancer killer for women ages 30-34. This is happening because of unprotected exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds and/or the sun.

“Getting the message about keeping your skin healthy needs to be delivered and understood by young school-aged children so they will have a base of biological information from which they can make educated, healthy lifestyle choices,” Burns said.

Letitia Stain, a high school teacher from Yellville, plans on making her students more aware of the dangers of UV radiation by using the posters she received in the resource kit and many of the images provided on the workshop CD.

“In the part of the state that I live in, some students think that they can go out and swim in the river without sunscreen because they are already tan,” Stain said. “I think that these visuals of skin cancer will help them see that later on down the road they will regret that.”

Burns showed the group how to engage their students when teaching them the general aspects of cancer, including how it grows, invades and eventually spreads to other organs.

“Most of the things I’ve learned today I will be able to apply at school and with my family,” said Marcus Davis, a Cloverdale Middle School athletic director and teacher. “Dr. Burns is outstanding. He did a great job explaining everything and the material is great. I will be sharing this information with the science and biology teachers when I get back to school.”

The PIHS program has provided thousands of hours of professional development statewide to Pre-K-12 teachers as well as nurses and middle/high school students. The program has been financially supported by UAMS, National Institutes of Health Center for Research Resources, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Cancer Coalition, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and the Arkansas Department of Human Services – Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education.

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