Annual Free Skin Screening 2013 May 7, 2013
Topics: cancer_care

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Summer is near so that means it's time for the 26th Annual Free Skin Cancer Screening at the University Medical Center Brackenridge. More than two million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Making skin cancer the most common form of cancer diagnosed. People who live in areas with high amounts of sun exposure are more at risk of developing skin cancer.

Get Screened for Free
When: Saturday, June 8
Where: University Medical Center Brackenridge
601 East 15th Street
(1st Floor-Day Surgery)
Time: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

There are three types of skin cancer, basal, squamous and melanoma. When detected early and treated properly, even melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer is curable. Despite this advance in treating the disease, the numbers of diagnosed skin cancers has gone up over the past decade which means more needs to be done to prevent it. This year more dermatologists and skin care specialists are donating their time for screenings and will provide educational items to the general public about being sun smart as we head into the spring and summer months.

Who Should be Screened?

There are some general characteristics that put some at risk of developing skin cancer than others. Some risk factors for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are:

  • Exposure to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time.

  • Having a family history of unusual moles (atypical nevus syndrome) or melanoma.

  • Fair skin that freckles and burns easily, does not tan, or tans poorly.

  • Having several large or many small moles.

  • Blue or green or other light-colored eyes.

  • Individuals with red or blond hair are also at an increased risk.

  • Having a history of many blistering sunburns, especially as a child or teenager.

Jason S. Reichenberg, MD, is the Clinical Director of Dermatology for UT Physicians adds "There's been an increase in melanoma cases in teenagers. Teens are the fastest growing group being diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States." Even though Caucasians are most at risk, it is important everyone is screened for skin cancer regardless of age, gender and even race. Non-Caucasians are also at risk of developing skin cancer and often times the disease is diagnosed at a later stage.

Learn How to be Sun Smart

The best ways to lower the risk of skin cancer are to avoid long exposure to intense sunlight and practice sun safety. You can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors while using sun safety at the same time. Here are some ways to be sun safe:

  • Use sunscreen and lip balm with broad spectrum protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply a palmful amount of sunscreen to unprotected skin at least 30 minutes before outdoor activities. Re-apply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating. And remember to use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days. And don't forget your ears and neck.

  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Cover up with protective clothing to guard your skin, choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics.

  • Avoid tanning beds, these emit an unhealthy amount of UV rays and can damage skin.

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from harmful rays.

Early Signs

The most important warning sign for melanoma is any change in size, shape, or color of a mole or other skin growth, such as a birthmark. Watch for changes that occur over a period of weeks to a month. Use the ABCDE rule to evaluate skin changes, and call your health professional if you have any of the following changes.

  • A is for asymmetry. One half of the mole or skin growth doesn't match the other half.

  • B is for border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.

  • C is for color. The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in color distribution, especially the spread of color from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin, also are an early sign of melanoma.

  • D is for diameter. The mole or skin growth is larger than 6 mm (0.25 in.) or about the size of a pencil eraser. Any growth of a mole should be of concern.

  • E is for evolution. There is a change in the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or color of a mole.

Signs of melanoma in an existing mole include changes in:

  • Elevation, such as thickening of a previously flat mole.

  • Surface, such as scaling, erosion, oozing, bleeding, or crusting.

  • Surrounding skin, such as redness, swelling, or small new patches of color around a larger lesion (satellite pigmentations).

  • Sensation, such as itching, tingling, or burning.

  • Consistency, such as softening or small pieces that break off easily (friability).

Skin cancer develops over time and there are many signs and symptoms to look out for. Being sun smart and preventing skin cancer is the best way to beat it. That means understanding how sunscreen works and recognizing changes in the skin after too much exposure. This annual skin screening gives everyone an opportunity to be screened by a board certified dermatologist and receive education materials on how to prevent skin cancer. The 2013 Free Skin Cancer Screening sponsors are the Austin Dermatological Society, American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society.

No appointments are required and participants are seen on a first come, first served basis.

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