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MINNEAPOLIS - After a long, harsh winter it's no surprise Minnesotans are eager to peel off the layers and soak in the sun. But before you head to the nearest lake, dermatologists are urging Minnesotans to take steps to prevent their risk of getting skin cancer.

Today is Melanoma Monday at the University of Minnesota, a free event designed to raise awareness of skin cancer and encourage skin examinations.

According to the MN Department of Health, melanoma is the second-most-common cancer among Minnesota girls and young women between the ages of 15 to 29. Indoor tanning increases melanoma risk by at least 59%, according to the Department of Health.

"We really want to make sure people are protecting themselves. We want you to enjoy the summer, but we want you to do it in a smart way," said Sarach Schram, M.D. and Dermatologic Surgeon at UMN.

Schram recommends regularly using sunblock that is SPF 30 or higher on body areas that receive a lot of sun exposure like the back of the neck and face. "You want to put sun block on 20 minutes before sun exposure, so it can really get absorbed and start to work," said Schram.

The Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota will be offering free skin cancer screenings from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Phillips-Wangensteen Building located on 516 Delaware St. S.E. Minneapolis.

Dermatologists will check suspicious moles or lesions or perform full body screens.

Dr. Schram recommends to look for any mole that "suddenly gotten bigger or if it's color changed, if its borders have become irregular, if it's become symptomatic, if it's painful or itching."

Sunscreen samples will be provided.

For more information, contact the Dermatologic Surgery and Laser Center at 612-626-6999.

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