Braden leading MLB's Play Sun Smart efforts

Braden leading MLB's Play Sun Smart efforts

Braden leading MLB's Play Sun Smart efforts
Dallas Braden lost his mother to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, during his senior year in high school. It was brought into focus on May 9, 2010 -- Mother's Day -- when he pitched a perfect game for the Oakland A's and celebrated with his grandmother.

The left-hander underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on May 17, but he continues to put himself in position to help spread an important message. Braden has teamed up with Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology as the 2011 spokesperson for Play Sun Smart, a program that provides information on sun safety and raises awareness of the importance of skin cancer prevention and detection.

"Losing my mom changed my life forever and gave me firsthand knowledge of how serious skin cancer can be," Braden said. "I appreciate the chance to share my story and to spread the word about the dangers of skin cancer. I want everyone to know that early detection is key, and that skin cancer is preventable.

"Things like putting on sunscreen, wearing a hat or other protective clothing, and checking your body regularly are simple ways to stay safe while having fun in the sun."

Since 1999, MLB players, coaches and staff have served as role models for their fans by stepping up to the plate for skin screenings through the Play Sun Smart program. All 30 clubs participate in the screenings and reduce their risk for skin cancer by practicing sun-safe behaviors throughout the season. Academy dermatologists have conducted more than 26,500 skin cancer screenings through the Play Sun Smart program.

"Skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to detect in its early stages because the signs are right there on the surface of the skin. Early detection offers the best chance for successful treatment," said Dr. Thomas Rohrer, chairperson of the Academy's sports committee. "It only takes a few minutes to protect and check your skin, and it could save your life."

Skin self-examinations consist of regularly looking over the entire body, including the back, scalp, soles, between the toes and on the palms. If there are any changes in the size, color, shape or texture of a mole, if a new mole develops or any other unusual changes in the skin occur, make an appointment to see a dermatologist immediately.

The American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, it is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin.

Following the lead of MLB players, fans can find a free skin cancer screening in their area by visiting the Academy's website at www.aad.org.

The Play Sun Smart awareness program is one of several cancer-related initiatives supported by MLB. Others include Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), whose mission is to support the groundbreaking scientific research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe; the Mother's Day "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative, a joint partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help increase awareness of breast cancer and raise money toward the search for a cure; and the Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge, which helps increase awareness of prostate cancer and raises money for the search for a cure as part of MLB's June 19 Father's Day celebration.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. You also can leave comments on his MLB.com Blogs Central community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.