Most Americans are unaware that skin cancer is being diagnosed in epidemic numbers, that within ten years melanoma may be diagnosed more often than lung cancer within certain segments of the population, and that the cost to the American medical system could be in the tens of billions of dollars.

Understanding the problem, understanding how you are at risk and understanding what protection methods are available will lead you to the AWARE acronym. Using the methods described in AWARE will help slow the epidemic of skin cancer and may help save your life.

A - Avoid unprotected exposure during the peak UV hours between 10 AM and 4 PM.

W - Wear sun protective clothing including a shirt, a hat with a 3-inch brim and sunglasses. If possible, stay out of direct sunlight.

A - Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to all unprotected skin 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours while in the sun.

R - Routinely check for and report suspicious changes to a physician.

E - Express the need for sun protection to your family and community.

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