Melanoma is the most dangerous and most aggressive type of cancer, quickly progressing to an advanced, fatal stage. Unlike most other solid tumors, this disease frequently affects young, active people. In Romania, 1,121 cases were detected in 2012 alone. Even more worrying is the fact that 75% of the people with metastatic melanoma die in the first year after being diagnosed. Life expectancy for these patients is only 6 to 9 months. But if it is discovered early and treated properly, melanoma can be cured in 98% of cases.

Screenshot 2015-09-06 11.45.30All these data revealed the need to educate people to encourage preventive behavior toward sunlight exposure. So, in partnership with the Federation of Cancer Patients Associations (FABC), we laid the foundations of the “A Spotless Future” campaign, a nation-wide information and education initiative on melanoma-related risks. We knew that the incidence of this disease grows at an accelerated pace in the population aged between 25 and 39. We were to address those active people who were at their professional and personal peak, but who did not pay particular attention to health issues. Therefore, by means of a simple idea drawn from the world of the people whom we were targeting we set out to facilitate their interaction with physicians – not by calling them to the doctor’s office, but instead bringing the office to them.

The idea of linking the campaign with outdoor sports started from a dangerous behavior: whether we run or go biking, we often spend hours in the sun, and this behavior entails a risk. At the beach, most people tend to use sunscreen, but when it comes to sport they may take this issue too easy. The involvement of the campaign in Via Sport is one of the initiatives by which we aimed to teach young people how to protect themselves effectively against sunlight, to recognize the early signs of melanoma and see the doctor for a thorough evaluation. Thus, the participants in Via Sport were tested by dermatologists with a dermatoscope and were informed about the risks of melanoma, its causes, but also about how it can be prevented. Also, they received UV-sensitive bracelets with which they could see the times of the day when solar radiation is exceedingly intense. The campaign activities in Bucharest were replicated at the local level through education and information activities carried out in Brasov and Cluj.

The campaign received support from the most influential sports, beauty and parenting bloggers, but also the help of celebrities like Oana Cuzino, Daniela Nane or Ada Condeescu. Mixing classical tools and communication actions with innovative components and approaches, the campaign managed to ensure a better understanding and increased awareness of the dangers of skin cancer.

Over 150 news items – in TV, print, online, and radio – reported on the campaign and conveyed its key messages. In total, about 7,259,259 people found out about the risk factors for melanoma and how they can prevent this unforgiving disease. Over 800 people had skin tests at the points of information of the “A Spotless Future” campaign in Bucharest and in the country. Of these, 4% were diagnosed with various forms of skin cancer, while almost 40% were at risk to develop skin disorders, according to the tests carried out.