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Foundation aims to stop deaths from skin cancer

PHOENIX — With about 300 days of sunshine in Arizona, a local foundation wants to make skin cancer a thing of the past.

It was 21 years ago that Jeff Dulude, 37, died from melanoma and his widow, Claudia, has since founded the Jeff Dulude Melanoma Foundation in his honor.

Claudia Dulude said the foundation’s goal is to end deaths from the disease.

“Melanoma is a preventable cancer,” she said.

Part of preventing that disease is raising awareness to the dangers of too much sun exposure.

“It’s accumulative,” she explained. “If you were in the sun today, for two hours, it counts like two packs of cigarettes.”

With so much sun exposure here, Dulude said it is critical for people to get screened to check for skin cancer, especially in young adults and adolescents where it is the second most common form of cancer.

“The early detection of college-aged people is really the best way,” Delude said.

In a recent screening at the University of Arizona, Delude said that out of 62 students checked, 40 percent were referred to see a dermatologist.

Catching melanoma early sharply increases a person’s chance of surviving and getting screened is a great way to increase the likely hood of detection, she said.

Other than getting screened, it’s equally important to wear protection, such as hats and sunscreen, daily. She also said staying out of tanning beds is important, because they increase the chance of cancer by 75 percent.