The New Jersey Department of Health is promoting Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month to remind all New Jerseyans to take precautions to prevent skin cancer and get screened for early signs of skin cancer, because early detection saves lives.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. While the incidence of many forms of cancer are declining, the incidence of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, has been increasing for at least 30 years. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 76,600 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed nationwide in 2013, and an estimated 2,520 of those diagnoses will be in New Jersey.
"People of all ages and races need to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Young children are especially susceptible to the sun's UV rays, which are strongest and most harmful during mid-day. Infants should not be exposed to direct sun during the hottest part of the day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and if infants are outside, care should be taken to protect them with sunscreen, a hat and an umbrella or a pop-up tent."
This summer, the New Jersey Regional Chronic Disease Coalitions, sponsored by grant funding from the Health Department's Office of Cancer Control and Prevention (OCCP), have once again taken to the beaches, parks and public swimming pools to provide free skin cancer screenings through Choose Your Cover, a statewide skin cancer awareness and education program. July is the peak month for the program, which runs through mid-August.
Choose Your Cover recommends a number of sun smart precautions, including using sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and wearing protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
To promote early detection and skin cancer screening, Choose Your Cover is conducting free skin cancer screenings at a number of public locations in New Jersey including:
Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Boardwalk, Cape May
Great Lawn, Board & Cooper Avenues, Long Branch
Brick Beach III, 440 Rt. 35 North, Brick
Ship Bottom Beach, 20th St. Beach end, Ship Bottom
Stockton and North Ocean Avenue, Seaside Park
Belmar Beach, 5th and Ocean Avenue, Belmar
Inspira Medical Center, 501 West Front St., Elmer
Brinley Avenue Boardwalk, Bradley Beach
Duke Island Park, Old York Road, Bridgewater Township
Bee Meadow Swimming Pool, Pond Road, Whippany
Chilton Hospital, 97 West Parkway, Pompton Plains
16th Street Gazebo, Brigantine
Earlier this year in February, the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recognized New Jersey's Choose Your Cover as a national model. The report credited the program with increasing access to skin cancer education and screening for thousands of at-risk individuals, identifying many with a presumptive diagnosis of skin cancer and increasing knowledge about protective steps that people can take to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
In the five years from 2008 through 2012, Choose Your Cover has screened more than 6,600 people. This year, the program is returning on schedule to the beaches, many of which sustained heavy damage from Superstorm Sandy. These beach communities are demonstrating their resiliency by hosting events like Choose Your Cover that over time have become a part of the summer activity at the Jersey Shore.
To learn more about Choose Your Cover, visit http://www.state.nj.us/health/ccp or http://www.chooseyourcover.org/.