WVU cancer center to offer free skin cancer screening

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, striking more than one million Americans each year.  Melanoma, the most serious form of the disease, accounts for most of the nearly 12,000 skin cancer deaths annually and is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States.  But, all skin cancers are highly curable if caught early and treated properly.

West Virginia University will offer free skin cancer screenings at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in observance of skin cancer awareness month on Tuesday, May 18, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Advance registration is required.  Call 304-293-4500 to make an appointment.

Participants will be asked to complete a form describing their medical and sun exposure history and will be examined by a physician.  If anything suspicious is found during the five-minute exam, the patient will be referred for a dermatology appointment.

“Since most skin cancers are caused from too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, we strongly recommend that people limit exposure to the sun and avoid tanning booths,” says Rodney Kovach, MD, section chief for the department of dermatology at the WVU School of Medicine.  “Both can cause skin damage and have been implicated in the increased incidence of skin cancer.”

Kovach supports efforts by the American Academy of Dermatology to pressure the Food and Drug Administration to ban indoor tanning devices on the basis that they emit UV radiation that has been shown to cause skin cancer and that they contribute to the increase in melanoma diagnoses in young adults who use them.  “Not only are we seeing skin cancer at an earlier age, but we are seeing patients with a history of multiple skin cancers occurring at a younger age.  No safe level of tanning has been established.” 

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid direct sun exposure, says Kovach, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when ultraviolet radiation is the strongest. He also advises using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and wearing sunglasses that block most harmful rays. 

Other recommendations include: do a skin self-exam every month to check for any change in a mole or other skin growth and wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside.



For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ss: 04-01-10

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