PORTLAND - Oregon, Washington and Idaho have some of the highest rates of melanoma in the U.S., according to a new report issued by the Multnomah County Health Department.

The report called "Skin Cancer,"says Utah, New Hampshire and Vermont are also high on the list.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common types of skin cancer, and they are highly curable. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more serious because it can be fatal, although if detected early it can also be highly curable.

Fair-skinned men and women age 65 and older, and people with with atypical moles or more than 50 moles are at greater risk for developing melanoma.

The report says there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases of melanoma among younger white women in the United States. The number of cases among young women, ages 15 to 39, increased from 9.4 per 100,000 population in 1980 to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2004.

"Data suggests that most skin cancers can be prevented if children, adolescents, and adults are protected from UV rays," said Multnomah County Health Department Director Lillian Shirley.

Recommendations for sun protection include:

- Seeking shade, especially during the midday hours when UV rays are strongest

- Cover up exposed skin with protective clothing

- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck

- Use sunscreen and reapply frequently

- Protect eyes with wrap-around sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA and UVB ray protection

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