“I would love to see people being more aware."By Andrea Alvarez

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – “We do go to the beach on the weekends and we try to go early morning now where it is not too hot,” said Kate Postle, a Tampa resident. Known for it’s soft white sand and beautiful beaches, Florida ranks high on the list for many things. But it also ranks second in the U.S. for total number of melanoma cases. Experts say not enough is being done to spread awareness about protection, even during the colder months.

“It’s so deadly because it leaves your skin. It goes to your brain, your lungs, your heart,” said Dr. Ashani Weeraratna, Researcher, John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Doctor Weeraratna has been researching skin cancer for more than 30 years now and says Florida’s ranking has a lot to do with high risk behaviors such as exposure to sun in comparison to other places.

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“It’s January, I went for a walk midday and I put on a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt just to block my skin from the sun,” said Postle.

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“I would love to see people being more aware. Not using tanning beds, in addition to wearing sun screen, wearing UV protective clothing,” said Dr. Weeraratna. She overcame a skin cancer diagnosis herself.

“I had my own scare as well. I was getting a pedicure,” she explained. “I looked down and I saw this black streak across my toe nail. I was very lucky, it was very pre-malignant. I had it removed immediately.” Recently appointed by President Biden to the National Cancer Advisory Board, she says this “disease of aging” affects too many people. “For every 100 people diagnosed with cancer, 90 of them will be over the age of 55.”

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She recently published a book about her findings and the role aging plays in cancer cells’ spread among other research advances. Now, she speaks to the importance of knowing the signs and getting checked regularly.