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Sun Bus drives home importance of skin cancer prevention in Colorado

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Posted at 10:21 AM, Jul 06, 2024

DENVER — School may be out, but there is still a big yellow bus to look out for on Colorado roads — The Sun Bus.

The Sun Bus is a 40-foot mobile clinic that provides free skin exams and education about skin cancer and sun protection.

Funded by dermatology clinics and medical corporate sponsors, the Denver-based bus travels all over Colorado and nine other states, stopping at big events like festivals, state fairs and sporting events. The dermatologists on board hand out free sunscreen and sun safety education materials.

People at the events can sign up for a quick exam, which usually takes about five minutes, in one of the two private exam rooms on the bus. The doctors then advise people on what, if anything, they found. If something looks like it needs attention, the dermatologists recommend next steps and can call a local clinic to get the ball rolling for treatment.

Some 7,000 people have been examined on board the Sun Bus since it rolled out in 2019. Co-founder Dr. Neil Box said they've detected 70 melanomas, the most invasive skin cancer with the highest risk of death, and many more less-serious skin cancers.

"Participants who've had a lesion flagged have gotten back to us and said, 'That was an early-stage melanoma. You may have saved our lives, my life,'" said Dr. Box.

Sun safety is critical in Colorado. We are at a higher altitude, meaning we're closer to the Sun.

According to Dr. Box, in Denver at 5,280 feet, our exposure to UV rays — the Sun rays most damaging to our skin — is 26 percent higher than at sea level. At 10,000 feet, UV rays are 50 percent more intense. And for those who like to conquer 14ers, at 14,000 feet, your UV exposure is 70 percent greater.

Sun Bus drives home importance of skin cancer prevention in Colorado

There are several catchy slogans to help us remember how to protect our skin. But since Dr. Box is from Australia — the skin cancer capital of the world — let's use the sun safety campaign from Down Under: Slip, Slop, Slap.

  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Slop on sunscreen 30 spf or higher.
  • Slap on a hat.

Sun Bus staff will see 1,500 to 2,000 people this summer in hopes of normalizing skin exams and showing everyone that skin cancer is easily detectable, treatable, and ultimately preventable.
To see if the Sun Bus is coming to a location near you, click here.

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