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Experts Say Skin Cancer Screenings Are Way Down Due To Pandemic, Advise Everyone To Lather On The Sunscreen

KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Skin cancer is fairly easy to detect and treat when done so at an early stage. But left untreated, it can cause disfigurement and even death.

Sobering new statistics reveal that skin cancer screenings have dropped significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Friday.

Inside Sunken Meadow State Park, people were asleep in the sun and paddling on the reflective waters of Long Island Sound. Very few were lathering on the sunscreen.

"Not only did we not use sunscreen, we used baby oil and a reflector," beachgoer Maureen Florio said.

READ MOREYale Researchers Discover Cancerous Skin Tumors May Be Treated With Direct Injection Of Nanoparticles, Which Are Key To COVID Vaccines

Kenneth Hass is an avid fisherman, a husband, dad, and Manhasset deli owner.

"I was shocked. I was scared. 'Oh my gosh, cancer,'" Hass said.

Hass was first diagnosed 15 years ago, and his skin cancer recurred during the pandemic.

"They were very small little dots that I really wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't for her," Hass said.

"Her" is Hass' dermatologist, Dr. Adrienne Haughton of Stony Brook Medicine. She says the pandemic has created a complex medical fallout.

"People were very concerned to just leave their house, let alone go to the doctor's office," Haughton said.

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The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says the lockdown has led to significant delays in diagnosing melanomas and basil cell cancers.

"If there is delayed onset diagnosis it means late treatment, which means potentially more aggressive disease," Haughton said.

"I definitely wearing as much protecting gear and clothing when I go fishing, and the hats, and I have all the long-sleeved shirts," Hass said.

READ MOREOnline Pharmacy And Lab Says Some Popular Sunscreen Products Contain A Known Cancer-Causing Chemical

The Welch family, visiting from London, offered some simple advice -- wear sunscreen.

"You spray it on your arms and legs ... This is the stick. This is the lotion. This is the spray," one family member said.

Fair skin blonde or red heads are at risk. Genetics also play a role. People of color, with delayed diagnoses, are four times more likely than Caucasians to die from melanoma, experts say.

Unprotected skin can be damaged by harmful UV rays in fewer than 15 minutes.

Experts say tanning beds are especially harmful. Skin cancers are appearing now for those who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s.

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