Dr. Mary Beth Cole, a dermatologist, recently provided free skin cancer screenings at a Hamilton Health Care System event in Chatsworth. Of those screened, 22% had abnormal findings and were encouraged to follow up with a biopsy.

"Although skin cancer rates have been increasing during the past decade, the good news is that you can do a lot to help protect yourself," Cole said. "Sun protection and skin cancer screenings help reduce the risk of invasive skin cancer. If caught early, skin cancer is very treatable."

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain characteristics are at greater risk. Higher risk factors include: lighter natural skin color; skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily or becomes painful in the sun; blue or green eyes; blonde or red hair; certain types and a large number of moles; family history of skin cancer; and a personal history of skin cancer.

"Protecting your skin is important the entire year, not just during the summer or when you're at the beach," said Rita Harris, Hamilton Cancer Institute service line administrator. "We want people to practice sun-safe habits and to minimize the risk of skin cancer."

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