June 4, 2004

Skin screening provides service, reassurance for employees

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Nobel laureate Paul Greengard, Ph.D., was the keynote speaker at the “Frontiers in Addiction Biology: Genomics and Beyond” conference.

Skin screening provides service, reassurance for employees

More than 200 staff and faculty members received a free skin screening last week at the annual screening conducted by the division of Dermatology.

This number was in addition to the more than 160 community members who attended a screening earlier in the month, which was held at Vanderbilt and sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology and the Nashville Dermatological Society.

“[In my department] we wait for the e-mail [announcing the screening],” said Christopher V.E. Wright, D. Phil, professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and vice chair of the department. “It’s a great service,” he added after his screening by Joyce M.C. Teng, M.D., Ph.D., a second year dermatology resident.

Another of Teng’s patients was Jayne Fuller, a clinical specialist who works in the main OR.

“I have had melanoma in my family,” she explained, citing the most deadly type of skin cancer. “My mom had melanoma removed from her face and arm.”

Such a family history makes it especially important for Fuller to have regular screenings, Teng said.

That attitude of helpfulness was evident in the dozen or so faculty members and residents who participated in screening the staff and faculty; advice about sun exposure, sunscreen, and the advisability of monthly skin self-exams was a routine part of the patient encounters.

Another patient with experience with skin cancer was Jane Kopf, a VUMC pharmacist who is quite knowledgeable about her skin and skin cancer. “I’ve been fighting the basal cell wars for years,” she told Sara Kantrow, M.D., a first year resident who participated in the screening. Kantrow concurred in her patient’s assessment, and recommended that she schedule an appointment to have several apparent basal cell carcinomas removed.

While basal cell is not as invasive or deadly as melanoma, it is still important to deal with problems quickly, Kantrow said. Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, killing more than 7,000 people a year. Other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell and squamous cell, are less deadly, but can still be disfiguring.

That’s why participants seemed so generally happy to have had the opportunity for a free skin check.

“The screening was very quick, efficient, and reassuring,” said Gillian Murrey, an analyst/programmer for the division of Student Life after her screening.

“We’re always happy to provide this service to Vanderbilt employees and the community,” said John A. Zic, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, who helped organize the screenings.