May 7, 2004

Skin cancer screenings scheduled for this month

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Vanderbilt staff, faculty and students will have two opportunities in May to have a skin cancer screening performed by a dermatologist.

• A community screening will be held Saturday, May 8 from 8 to 11 a.m. in the Henry-Joyce Cancer Clinic on the first floor of The Vanderbilt Clinic. Vanderbilt is hosting this event, which is sponsored by the Nashville Dermatological Society and the American Academy of Dermatology.

Free parking will be available in the TVC garage across the street from the entrance. No appointment is necessary.

• A screening for Vanderbilt staff, faculty, and students will be held Wednesday, May 26 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Dermatology practice area on the third floor of TVC. An appointment is necessary for this screening; the number to call is 343-0300.

“We want people to be aware they need to be familiar with their skin,” said Michel McDonald, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine and the dermatologist coordinating the community screening for Vanderbilt.

Last year McDonald identified a melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, on a patient who attended the community screening.

“The incidence of melanoma is on the rise, especially in women,” McDonald said. “And the earlier it’s caught, the better the prognosis.”

She also noted that basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, is easily treated in its early stages and that a benefit of having a full body screening is to find potential problems early.

While those performing the screenings are willing to examine a particular skin lesion or area, McDonald emphasized that having a dermatologist perform a careful head-to-toe check is the best way to make sure that the patient has no areas of concern.

A full body skin exam is especially recommended for those who:

• Have a personal or family history of skin cancer

• Had one or more peeling sunburns before age 18

• Have fair skin pigmentation

• Have a number of moles or pigmented lesions

• Have never had a skin cancer screening

• Are age 40 or above