GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Since skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. by a wide margin and can be deadly, it’s essential to take preventative measures, experts say.

“Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer in America,” said Dr. James Forshee, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Priority Health.

One in 5 of all Americans over age 70 will have skin cancer — and it can be “extremely deadly,” Forshee said.

“We know that the vast majority of skin cancers are a result of damage that’s been done to the DNA, the molecule that controls the information inside of our cells,” Forshee said. “And (the damage is) done by the sun. Therefore, being wise about our exposure to the sun and protection from the sun is really important.”

Forshee told News 8 that the sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“Sunscreen is really important,” he said.

A sunscreen with an SPF of 30, Forshee said, will block 97% of the sun’s rays.

According to Forshee, skin cancer prevention “starts early”: The key is to be aware of “things that are new, things that are changing or things that are unusual” on the body.

Changes in size, shape, thickness, color and texture are important to note, Forshee said, as are “unusual” instances like “areas that are particularly consistently itching or bleeding or just don’t heal.”

More resources for skin health are available online.