The New Jersey Department of Health is promoting Choose Your Cover, a statewide summer campaign to remind residents to take precautions to prevent skin cancer and get screened for early signs of the disease. Free screening events held at parks, pools, hospitals, community centers and beaches along the Jersey Shore are reminders that early detection saves lives.
Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 76,380 cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed nationwide in 2016. As estimated 2,470 of those diagnoses will be in New Jersey.
“Throughout the summer, New Jersey’s outdoor recreational facilities offer sports and leisure activities that the whole family can enjoy,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “However, too much sun exposure is a health risk for people of all ages and races. Young children especially need protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, and infants should not be exposed to the mid-day sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To be sun safe, everyone should wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.”
In 2015, Choose Your Cover screened 2,029 people, the largest number for any year in the program’s eight-year history. Growing participation among local health and recreation departments and hospitals resulted in Choose Your Cover screening events at 50 sites across the state. A significant outcome of the 2015 campaign was that nearly 27 percent (545 of those screened) were referred to their doctors or healthcare providers for further testing.
Choose Your Cover is coordinated by the New Jersey Regional Chronic Disease Coalitions with grants from the Department’s Office of Cancer Control and Prevention (OCCP). Physicians, nurses, hospitals, health departments, community organizations, municipalities, corporations and volunteers have joined together to reduce the risk of skin cancer in New Jersey by providing skin cancer screenings, sunscreen and a wealth of vital skin safety information at no cost to people who spend extended time in the sun.
Sun-smart precautions include using sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30, wearing protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Families should limit their time in the sun, especially when the sun is at its strongest.
More than 30 screening events have been scheduled across the state to-date between early May and mid-August. July is the peak month for the program.
On Saturday, July 16, designated Choose Your Cover Day in New Jersey, people can take advantage of any one of seven cancer screening events scheduled throughout the day at these locations:
- Cape May City Convention Center, 714 Beach Avenue – 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
- Bee Meadow Pool Hanover Twp., 1011 Reynolds Avenue, Hanover – 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Asbury Park Boardwalk, 800 Ocean Avenue – 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
- Belmar Beach, Ocean at 5th Avenue – 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Brick Beach III, 440 Rte. 35 North – 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Island Beach State Park – Central Ave., Seaside Park, – 1st ocean beach – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Ship Bottom (LBI), 20th Street’s beach end – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Other opportunities available during the remaining weeks of the campaign include:
- Sea Bright Municipal Beach, 1099 Ocean Avenue – July 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Seven President’s Oceanfront Park, 212 Ocean Ave. North, Long Branch – July 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Sea Isle City Promenade Pavilion at JFK Boulevard – July 24, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Longport, South 35th Avenue – July 30, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Grand Centurion Pool, 440 Madison Hill Road, Clark – August 6, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Ventnor Newport Ave & Boardwalk Gazebo (near library) – August 13, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- Brigantine, 14th Street Beach – August 13, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Choose Your Cover initiative has screened more than 11,600 people since 2008. Of those screened, more than 4,310 people were referred for further evaluation to their healthcare providers or to a healthcare provider identified for them. To learn more about Choose Your Cover, visit http://www.nj.gov/health/ccp or http://www.chooseyourcover.org/.
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