A Message from Our CEO on Veterans Day

By Marc Hurlbert, PhD, MRA Chief Executive Officer | 11 November 2023 | Allies & Partnerships, Events, Melanoma Stories, News, Policy, Prevention, Science, Treatment

blog template 7

Did You Know Veterans are at Increased Risk of Developing Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers?

On this Veterans Day, we want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the brave individuals who have served and sacrificed for our country. We also want to use today to raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by veterans when it comes to increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

According to the latest research, U.S. military personnel are at higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.1 Melanoma is also now the fourth most common cancer diagnosed among veterans.2 This is likely due to several factors, such as exposure to high levels of UV radiation during military service, lack of access to regular skin screenings, and delayed diagnosis and treatment.

We also know that veterans are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma after it has already progressed to stage 3 or 4, when it is far harder to treat and cure.3 To be clear: veterans and members of our armed forces deserve better.

At MRA, we are committed to advancing research and improving outcomes for all people affected by melanoma, including the military and veteran community. We support innovative projects that address the specific needs and challenges of the veteran population, such as developing new therapies, new tools such as artificial intelligence that can help streamline the early diagnoses of skin cancer, and strategies to improve sun safety and prevent skin cancer altogether.

We are also partnering with the United States Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify risk factors for rare melanomas by examining anonymized health records of those treated at VA hospitals over the past 20 years. We hope that this groundbreaking study will give us new insight into the potential causes of acral, mucosal, and uveal melanomas that are not believed to be caused by UV exposure.

Yesterday, I hosted an online conversation with Iraq-war Veteran and melanoma survivor Andrew Smith to discuss his experiences with the unique sun safety challenges created by the extreme and harsh conditions service members face in theater. If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out and share this critical conversation with your friends, and community.

We hope that by funding the best possible science, fostering collaboration across institutions, and by bringing patients, advocates, and researchers together we can continue to move the field forward to better understand, prevent, treat, and ultimately cure melanomas.

With gratitude, 

Marc Hurlbert, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Melanoma Research Alliance