OCEAN COUNTY — Hundreds of Ocean County beachgoers and life¬guards will be glad that they headed for the beach when they learn how to have fun outdoors while protecting their skin and receive a free skin cancer screening on July 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Ocean County Cancer Coali¬tion (OCCC) will hold the screenings at three Ocean County beaches: Brick Beach 3, 440 Rte 35 North; Ortley Beach, 4th and Ocean Avenue; or Ship Bottom, 20th Street beach end. The rain date for the event is July 26.
OCCC "Choose Your Cover 2009" volunteer physicians, nurses and sup¬port staff from Ocean County's four medical centers, its health depart¬ments, businesses, organizations and municipalities will combine their expertise to fight skin cancer where risks are perhaps the greatest - at the beach. There a health professional will provide a free skin cancer screening exam — a simple test that can detect signs of skin cancer — pre-registration is not required.
Ocean County residents and tourists will also learn how to have fun in the sun while protecting their skin through five sun protection options: seeking shade, covering-up, putting on a hat, wearing sunglasses, and rubbing on sunscreen. Prudent avoidance of too much sunlight is fully compatible with the enjoyment of the county's beaches.
"Choose Your Cover" began in 2008 at three Ocean County beaches under the auspices of the Ocean County Cancer Coalition, which was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control for saving lives, one beach at a time because its members provided sun safety education and 541 free skin cancer screenings in Ocean County at Brick Beach 3, Ortley Beach and Ship Bottom 20th Street beach. Forty-seven of those beachgoers were referred for further screenings, eight of whom were referred with the possibility of having developed the more dangerous melanoma.
"Melanoma is a preventable cancer," stated Arnold Baskies, M.D., FACS, chair of the NJ Governor's Task Force on Cancer Prevention and Early De¬tection and Treatment, chair of the NJ Melanoma Work Group, president elect of the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division.
"Our efforts will raise public awareness and promote protection from the harmful effects of the sun." In 2009, all four New Jersey shoreline counties will implement the Ocean County model at 11 sites. Nearly 2000 people are anticipated to participate in this highly successful event on July 25, making it the largest free-stand¬ing skin cancer screening in the state. The purpose of "Choose Your Cover 2009" is to educate the public statewide about sun safety, prevention and early detection of skin cancer. OCCC, who initiated the screenings at the beach, is one of 21 county-wide coalitions created to help implement the New Jersey comprehensive cancer control plan. The plan includes many priorities, but the one OCCC chose was based on local needs and priorities. Statewide, melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers.
In Ocean County, the number of new melanoma cases each year is significantly higher than statewide and have been increasing dramatically in recent years.
For any additional information about volunteer opportunities or how you can participate in Ocean County's "Choose Your Cover 2009," please contact Deb Levinson at 732-286-3693. You may also visit the Web site at www.njcancer.gov and click on the calendar of events to find a free skin cancer screening in your area.