With the hot summer months upon us, the American Cancer Society wants to encourage sun safety awareness to help protect against skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type in the United States. About 3 million Americans are affected by skin cancer every year and 15,000 Americans die from squamous cell skin cancer — the most common form.

The most severe and frequent kind of skin cancer is malignant melanoma. In 2020, the ACS predicts there will be 196,000 diagnosed cases of melanoma in the United States and there will be about 7,000 deaths from it. Of those diagnosed cases of melanoma this year, 2,770 are expected to be in New Jersey alone.

Dr. Arnold Baskies, past chairman of The National Board of Directors of The American Cancer Society, said in the past 10 years there has been a 47% increase in melanoma cases, calling it a tsunami of skin cancer.

Baskies said there are easy ways to avoid cancer.

Avoid indoor tanning beds because they cause serious long-term skin damage.

When outside, seek shade and try to stay out of the sun during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Put up umbrellas at the beach. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible and wear sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet light.

The most important thing a person can do to protect skin damage from the sun, which could possibly lead to skin cancer, is wearing sunscreen. Baskies said it should be a broadspectrum sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection. The minimum SPF should be 15. Use a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover the body and reapply at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating because, Baskies said, no sunscreen product is truly "waterproof" or "sweatproof."

He also said to survey your skin and body and look for any unusual markings.

"A skin eruption that doesn't go away should be brought to the notice of a physician's attention so a biopsy can be performed," said Baskies.

Markings that have a border that is irregular, something on the skin that is increasing in size, has a funny color or a color that is changing and something with a diameter or a width that is increasing in size over time should all be brought to a doctor's attention.

Almost all skin cancers can be treated, especially if it's caught soon enough said Baskies.

More than five sunburns increases the risk of skin cancer, he said. Even one sunburn can increase the risk of melanoma.

In regards to ethnicity, Baskies said people with Celtic-Irish-German ancestries have an increased risk of developing skin cancer because of the lack of skin pigmentation. People with red hair, blue eyes and fair skin are more prone to sunburns. He said Africa American people can also get skin cancer, especially in the nail beds, the palms of their hands or the soles of their feet where there's less pigmentation.

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