Battling skin cancer on the beach

Published: Sep. 7, 2015 at 1:28 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2015 at 2:15 PM EDT
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MIAMI (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - While the rates of most types of cancer are on the way down, melanoma is one exception.

Nearly 70,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year, and 10,000 people die from it. Most can be prevented by cutting exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and some communities across the country are supplying outdoor lovers with one proven weapon against skin cancer.

Miami Beach is perfect for lovers of surf, sand and sun. For Edward Cassidy and Teresa Jimenez, it was a great place to spend an extra vacation day.

"Our luggage got stuck in the airport, so we didn't have anything, we had to go buy a bathing suit, and we didn't have any sunscreen," Jimemez said.

Edward and Teresa happened to be on the first beach in the country to provide sunscreen free in large, marked dispensers.

"Sunscreens, the good ones, are expensive and I think that actually plays a role in a lot of people not using sunscreens," says Jose Lutzky, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist at The Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami.

Lutzky says sunscreen is essential for protection against harmful ultraviolet rays.

"It has to be a sunscreen that has protection against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B," Lutzky said.

The sunscreen in the dispensers has both types of protection, an SPF of 30 and they're waterproof, designed to protect for 80 minutes.

Gavin Pratt spent his teens and 20s basking in the sun, unprotected.

"I used to rollerblade a lot. I used to be in the sun. I loved to go to the beach," Pratt said.

Now at 37, he's being treated for melanoma. Dr. Lutzky says with rates of this cancer increasing, putting sunscreen in public places could be a good preventive start.

The dispensers in Miami Beach were funded by Mount Sinai Medical Center. In addition to Miami, the city of Boston has installed lotion dispensers in parks and Dr. Lutzky says other cities in the U.S. and Canada have called to inquire about the program.

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