BOSTON (CBS) – They hit the beach Wednesday, but it wasn’t to worship the sun. It was to fight back against the ravages of the sun with free screenings for skin cancer. A special van from the Dana Farber Cancer Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital set up shop at Carson Beach in South Boston and with skin cancers on the rise that could be lifesaving.

The major culprit is sun exposure, over time, not only creating wrinkles, but possibly causing skin cancer. “Skin cancer, especially what we call keratinocyte carcinoma which is basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, are the most common cancers that happen in humans,” says Dr. Andrew Walls, a dermatologist from Brigham and Women’s.

Dr. Andrew Walls (WBZ-TV)

That’s why this traveling exam vehicle is visiting Boston area beaches providing free skin cancer screenings. It was a welcome opportunity for Frank Quigley and Liz O’Brien.

“I have some siblings in my family who have been diagnosed with skin cancer, and it was time for me to take care of myself,” Liz says.

“This was perfect. It was nice and convenient,” adds Frank.

Dr. Walls conducted each exam, which takes just a few minutes. “I think it’s important because skin cancer, like most other cancers, if you catch it at a very early phase, you can remove it from the skin and everything is fine,” he says.

Van from the Dana Farber Cancer Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital set up shop at Carson Beach (WBZ-TV)

Prevention is also key. Dr. Walls recommends using sunscreen with an SPF value of at least 30. “I use number 8 because I like to get a little bit of a tan, but they said that’s not really a good thing, so I’m probably switching from number 8 to number 30,” says Frank Quigley.

“I will probably add a sunscreen lip balm a little bit more diligently,” adds Liz O’Brien.

And the stakes are high. “For reasons we’re still trying to research and find out, skin cancer has been rising every year,” says Dr. Walls.

But for most people the screenings are reassuring. “All was well for me,” Liz says. “I have a couple of spots I have to keep an eye on, but I’m safe and that’s good,” says Frank.

There are 3 more beach screenings planned. To see where CLICK HERE

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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