Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), and the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) have collaborated on a new television and radio public service announcement starring Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, who tragically lost her brother to melanoma.

Video: Giada De Laurentiis Stands Up to Melanoma

The PSA is designed to increase awareness about the life-saving benefits of protecting oneself from harmful exposure to UV rays that increase the risk of being diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers, as well as the importance of early detection. It is the latest element in an ongoing “Protect Your Skin” campaign.

Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer globally, and its incidence has tripled in the U.S. over the past three decades. While prevention is the first step, early detection of melanoma is key to survival. Through the PSA, SU2C and MRA encourage people to always use sunscreens and to check regularly for persistent blemishes or moles along with other changes in their skin. When caught early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 92%. Most melanomas arise in the skin, but they can also occur in the eyes and other parts of the body.

De Laurentiis, an SU2C celebrity ambassador, says that the death of her younger brother Dino from melanoma at age 31 made her realize that everyone is at risk for melanoma. “Early detection can truly save your life,” said De Laurentiis. “You don’t have to die from melanoma or any other kind of skin cancer. My brother didn’t have to die. Had we caught the melanoma early on, he would no doubt be fine today. He could have been cured.”

“We need to check ourselves and be attuned with our bodies,” added De Laurentiis. “If there’s any change at all in your skin, no matter how small it is, go see your doctor.”

Melanoma Research Alliance is the largest private funder of melanoma research. To date, MRA has awarded $38 million to 96 research programs to make transformative advances in the prevention, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of melanoma, with plans to award at least $8 million in new grants in 2013. Its global support includes research in biological causes of carcinogenesis, skin screening, biomarkers, imaging, immunotherapy, molecularly targeted therapy, and combination therapy. MRA’s ultimate goal is to find a cure by funding the most promising melanoma research worldwide that will accelerate progress and improve outcomes for patients and the many at risk for the disease.

“We are thrilled to team up with Giada De Laurentiis and our friends at Stand Up To Cancer to increase awareness about melanoma and the importance of early detection through this PSA,” said Debra Black, co-founder, MRA. “Giada’s willingness to share her family’s story underscores that melanoma can happen to anyone, and sends a powerful message. We hope this PSA campaign encourages people to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and saves lives.” Black is a melanoma survivor.

In December 2011, SU2C announced its first jointly funded Dream Team in collaboration with the Melanoma Research Alliance. The SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant provides $6 million during a three-year period.

The Dream Team, led by Jeffrey M. Trent, Ph.D., president and research director at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, and Patricia M. LoRusso, director of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, is exploring “Personalized Medicine for Patients with BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) Cancer.” The team’s members are working to identify new therapeutic targets to treat patients with BRAFwt metastatic melanoma, an area where historically there has been little progress.

“The essence of Stand Up To Cancer is collaboration,” said SU2C Co-founder Sherry Lansing. “We are excited to continue our work with the Melanoma Research Alliance and are grateful to Giada De Laurentiis for helping shed light on melanoma prevention. Working together, we are making meaningful progress in the fight against this deadly form of cancer.”

To learn more, visit www.curemelanoma.org/protectyourskin or www.standup2cancer.org/protectyourskin.

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