Former Pro Football Coach Bill Cowher Tells Men "No Excuses" When It Comes To Getting Screened For Melanoma

New survey shows one in six men don't want to get a skin cancer screening because they are afraid of what they will hear

NEW YORK, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey shows that when it comes to getting screened for skin cancer, one in six men avoid going for fear of the results they will receive. This may be one reason why men are almost twice as likely as women to die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and nearly two-thirds don't see a point in going to a dermatologist unless something is wrong, even while incidence rates continue to rise. This can often be too late, as melanoma is almost always curable if caught early and treated properly, but it gets much harder to treat in advanced stages.

To address this lack of action and empower men to take an active role in their skin health, former professional football coach Bill Cowher is teaming up for a second time with leading melanoma advocacy groups – Melanoma International Foundation, Melanoma Research Alliance, Melanoma Research Foundation, The Skin Cancer Foundation – and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) on the educational campaign Melanoma Exposed: Screen. Protect. Know. Tell.  

The campaign is working with five professional football teams to spread the word about melanoma and bring free skin cancer screenings to the public. Last year, these events screened nearly 2,000 people, identifying 26 potential melanomas, and this year the goal is to screen even more.

In year two, the campaign is encouraging men to put their excuses aside and make skin cancer screenings a priority. The key is to get screened regularly and catch melanoma in its early stages.

"As a former football coach, one of my biggest lessons to my players was about being accountable for their actions. I apply this 'no excuses' attitude to my health as well. There should never be any excuses for not taking the best possible care of your health," said Coach Cowher. "Getting your skin screened by a dermatologist is quick and easy – it takes about 10 minutes. Men need to face the truth and learn the facts about melanoma. By not getting screened early and routinely, they are putting themselves at greater risk."

The Melanoma Exposed strategy is simple: Screen – get routine skin cancer screenings and conduct self-exams; Protect your skin by limiting your exposure to UV rays year round; Know your risk factors, such as family history and number of moles; and most importantly, Tell others the facts about melanoma and encourage routine skin cancer screenings.

Now in its second year, the campaign continues to spread this message, and on April 25, it kicks off the first of several free public skin cancer screenings that will be held throughout the year with the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

"When I learned about the Melanoma Exposed campaign last year, I made sure the whole team received a skin cancer screening as part of their annual physical, and we will continue these screenings for every player moving forward," said Ronnie Barnes, senior vice president for medical services for the New York Giants. "A skin cancer screening is an easy, painless procedure that may just be the most important 10 minutes of a person's life – especially men. I am glad the Giants and other teams are back in the game to support this important cause for a second year."

To learn more about these free skin cancer screenings, visit

Exposing Melanoma Survey Findings
Sponsored by the Melanoma Exposed campaign, the 2013 Exposing Melanoma national survey was conducted to shed light on the barriers that keep men from getting screened for skin cancer. Key findings showed:

  • Top reasons men avoid getting screened for skin cancer are:  they simply don't have the time to get screened (42%), they think it's a woman's issue (31%) and they believe it's a waste of time (30%)
  • Men would choose to do many activities before making a doctor's appointment if they had an extra 10 minutes, such as: chores (26%), napping (23%), snacking (22%) and checking their social networks (21%)
  • 14% of men rank "skin screening" as one of the lowest priorities for doctor appointments, coming after an eye exam (39%), dental exam (35%) and blood test (29%)

"Last year, when we conducted skin cancer screenings at football games, many men did not want to get screened because they were afraid of what we might find, and our survey supports this sentiment," said Elizabeth K. Hale, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University of School of Medicine. "Men don't get screened as often as they should, so we are catching it later when the cancer may have already progressed, which can be scary. Although I tend to see more women in my practice, I diagnose more men with the more aggressive stages of melanoma. The key with melanoma is to catch it early when it is most treatable."

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About Melanoma
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that is caused by the overgrowth of a type of skin cell (melanocyte) that is responsible for producing the pigment melanin that gives color to the skin and eyes. The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for the past three decades; it is estimated that approximately 75,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with the disease.  Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, but for men, it is most often found between the shoulders and hips or the head and neck. While the majority of melanomas occur on the skin, they can develop in other areas of the body where melanocytes exist, such as the mouth.

About the Melanoma Exposed Campaign
Melanoma Exposed is a public awareness campaign designed to educate Americans about melanoma and its risk factors and encourage them to take a more active role in their skin health. The Melanoma Exposed campaign is a partnership of the following advocacy groups and is sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb. For more information about the campaign, visit

Melanoma International Foundation
Established in 2003, the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the community at large as a valuable resource. MIF develops, supports, and provides innovative programs for the prevention, early detection and treatment of melanoma as well as navigating patients to clinical trials where it hopes a viable treatment will be found.

Melanoma Research Alliance
The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is a public charity formed under the auspices of the Milken Institute, with the generous founding support of Debra and Leon Black. It supports an international, cross-disciplinary group of biomedical researchers possessing clinical and scientific expertise to explore, identify and pursue innovative solutions to critical research questions, leading to better treatments and a cure for melanoma patients. Since its founding in 2007, MRA has become the largest private funder of melanoma research.

Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure.

The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research.

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit, or follow the company on Twitter at

About the Survey and TNS
Participants in the 5-question, self-administered online omnibus survey were a nationally-representative sample of 1,250 American males 18 years of age and older. The study was conducted from March 6, 2013March 10, 2013 using the field services of TNS. The margin of sampling error at the 95% level of confidence is plus/minus 2.8%. Data are weighted to reflect accurate representation of the population.

TNS is the world's largest custom research agency delivering insights and research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within many different industry sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across a range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development and innovation, brand and communication, stakeholder management, retail and shopper, and qualitative research. TNS is part of the Kantar Group.

Media Contacts

Melanie Brunner, 609-252-6338, [email protected] 
Kate Fisher, 212-880-5204, [email protected]

SOURCE Bristol-Myers Squibb