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Skin Cancer Survivor Talks Dangers of Sun Exposure

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Rochester: Skin Cancer Survivor Talks Dangers of Sun Exposure
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Mary Costello is an avid runner. She spends most of her days outside. "I've always been an active a runner, biker, and a swimmer,” said Costello.

The days filled with outdoors activities caught up with Costello in 2011. "I got a call from dermatologist that I had malignant melanoma. It took a second call from her to tell me it was malignant for me to understand what I had."

The news was overwhelming for Costello who also serves as a YMCA instructor. "I had a hard time going back and admitting I had cancer, because cancer wasn't going to happen to me," she said.

Three years later, she's now cancer free and serving as an advocate for skin cancer. "I have four children and I've encouraged them to check their skin once a month."

The American Cancer Society reports more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year.

Dr. Marc Brown with the University of Rochester Medical Center said melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. "There's a person that dies every hour from melanoma and there's going to be at least 10,000 from melanoma this year."

Brown said you can get sun exposure anytime of the year, but it's more intense during the warmer days. He said extra precaution should be made if you're outside for extended lengths of time.

He suggests protective clothing, like long sleeves and wide brim hats. He said it’s always important to apply a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30, 15 to 20 minutes before going outdoors.

"A problem with sunscreen is that people often don't use enough of it to apply to the sun exposed areas," said Brown. "Usually about one shot glass full of sun screen is enough."

Brown also advises everyone to check their moles once a month. "You're looking for a mole that’s beginning to change, look different or developing symptoms. If it's irritated, itching, or bleeding it should looked at.”

University of Rochester’s Medicine’s Department of Dermatology is joining forces with the American Academy of Dermatology and the Rochester Dermatologic Society to provide free skin cancer screenings.

Screenings will be held in the Dermatology Suite at Strong Memorial Hospital, Saturday May 31st from 8 a.m. to noon.

Mary's organization, Rochester Melanoma Action Group is hosting its annual 5K Run to support skin cancer awareness.

Outrun the Sun 5k, takes place August 1st at Webster Park.

The Rochester Melanoma Action Group has raised over $50,000 to help support skin cancer prevention.

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