Screening for skin cancer takes only 10 minutes but the benefits could last your lifetime.
The key to treating skin cancer is to find it early. That’s when all forms of skin cancer – including melanoma – the deadliest form – are highly treatable.
“One of the best things people can do is get an annual skin screening,” said Marylou S. Anton, MSN, RN, OCN, administrative director for oncology services at Bon Secours Hampton Roads. “Something you have on your skin – that you don’t think is anything to worry about – could be something cancerous.”
As part of its mission to improve the community’s health, Bon Secours has teamed up with Eastern Virginia Medical School to offer a free skin cancer screening on Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at Bon Secours Cancer Institute at DePaul. Board-certified dermatologists from EVMS will be on hand to screen people and recommend whether they need a follow-up appointment. People need to register for the screening by calling (757) 889-2273.
This will be the second, free SPOTme® skin cancer screening held by Bon Secours and EVMS. It’s part of a national screening program organized by the American Academy of Dermatology. During last year’s event at DePaul, 128 people were screened. One man who attended was ultimately diagnosed with melanoma.
“Because he came to the screening and followed up with the doctor, we helped save his life,” Anton said.
A surgeon at EVMS removed the man’s skin cancer using Mohs microscopic surgery. Surgeons trained to perform Mohs procedures can remove skin cancer with less damage to surrounding skin.
Bon Secours also offers a cutting-edge cancer treatment for patients who have reoccurring skin cancer, Anton said. Dr. Bradley Prestidge, regional medical director for radiation oncology, uses a form of radiation called high-dose-rate brachytherapy to kill cancer cells while minimizing any effects on surrounding healthy tissue. This type of treatment helps patients avoid additional surgery, which might be disfiguring.
Although anyone can get skin cancer, some people face a higher risk of melanoma, including:
- Men older than 50.
- Anyone who has more than 50 moles or large or unusual moles.
- People with fair skin.
- Anyone with a history of skin cancer.
It’s important to regularly check your skin for any unusual spots. If you notice one that itches, bleeds or has changed in shape or color, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point during their life. Protecting yourself from harmful UV rays is the most preventable skin cancer risk factor.
The AAD recommends the following tips to reduce your risk of skin cancer:
- Always seek shade when you’re outside. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Wear protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts and pants, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help protect your skin.
- Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. Most people need an ounce of sunscreen, about the size of your palm, to effectively cover their skin. Don’t forget to apply it to your feet, neck, ears and the top of your head. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before heading outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Use extra caution near water, sand or snow. These environments reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your risk for getting sunburned. Make sure your sunscreen isn’t expired. Always wear sunscreen whether it’s sunny or cloudy.
- Do not seek the sun to get enough vitamin D. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods rich in vitamin D or ask your health provider about taking vitamin D supplements.
+ Sign up for the free SPOTme® skin cancer screening. Call (757) 889-CARE. Learn more at BonSecours.com/SkinCancer.