Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
With summer around the corner, almost everyone’s heart brightens with the onset of long, lazy days in the beautiful summer sun. It is important to remember, however, that the practice of sun safety measures is crucial to avoid damage from ultraviolet rays, especially the increased risk of skin cancer that can result from too much time outdoors.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. In New Jersey, as a beach state we have a particularly high incidence with some 2,500 new cases of melanoma (the most serious of skin cancers) annually. It is a common myth that skin cancer is always a treatable disease and that sun exposure should thus not be feared. While indeed, many skin cancers are curable in early stages, tumors such as malignant melanoma can be quite deadly. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent the development of skin cancer:
You can further reduce your skin cancer by recognizing early warning signs of skin cancer development. Watch any small spots on your skin, or the skin of your friends and family, for the following ABCDEs:
To increase chances that any developing tumors will be found early, talk to your doctor about skin cancer. Your primary care physician and/or dermatologist will individualize plans for screening based on your health history. They may recommend a separate appointment for a full body skin exam. If you or multiple members of your family have had skin cancer, particularly melanoma, you may require more frequent skin exams.
And don’t forget to spread the word. Share your knowledge about skin cancer with your loved ones and friends. The only sure way to continue to detect and defeat skin cancer is to educate yourself and others about skin cancer risk and methods of prevention.
Janice M. Mehnert, MD, is a medical oncologist with the Melanoma and Soft Tissue Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, as well as an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.