New Brunswick, N.J., April 29, 2021 – According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. While we all want to enjoy the outdoors, increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other sources means an increased risk for skin cancer if proper precautions aren’t taken. As New Jersey’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care to patients diagnosed with skin cancer and helps individuals learn about skin cancer awareness and prevention.
“The single biggest risk factor for developing melanoma is exposure to UV light and the highest intensity of UV light comes from tanning beds. It used to be that melanoma was primarily a disease of older folks mostly older than 60, however, we often see patients in their 30s and 40s, sometimes with very aggressive melanomas and other skin cancers and when we discuss risk factors, almost all of them have been users of tanning beds at least 50 to 100 times,” said Adam C. Berger, MD, FACS, chief of Melanoma and Soft Tissue Surgical Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute . “I would also like to emphasize that even though it has been difficult sometimes to get in to see the dermatologist during the COVID pandemic, it is important to try to see them for regular screening at least two times per year.”
“Prevention really starts with sun protection which includes sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 for exposed areas as well as keeping covered or shaded any exposed areas,” said Roman Groisberg, MD a medical oncologist and director of the Sarcoma Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “When sitting at the beach or pool an umbrella is excellent, otherwise a wide-brimmed hat makes an excellent and functional accessory. Think about clothing with long sleeves as there are many excellent and stylish options designed for hiking or other outdoor activities. These preventative steps will go a long way toward preventing skin cancers years later. And don’t forget to reapply sunblock every two hours.”
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Drs. Berger and Groisberg are available to discuss types of skin cancer, risk factors, best prevention practices and general information on the disease.