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Skin Cancer Awareness Month brings free screenings

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the rise among Americans of all ages. There were about 68,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States in 2009 and 8,700 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Experts blame fashion — many people still think they look better with a tan — as well as increased use of tanning beds, which the World Health Organization has declared a known carcinogen.

Protecting yourself from the sun with UV filtering clothes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreens (SPF 30 and above) applied often and liberally, and avoiding midday sun exposure all are essential.

So is knowing your own skin. Melanoma is most treatable when found early, before it spreads. The American Cancer Society recommends professional skin examinations every year for people older than 40, and every three years for people ages 20 to 40. But vigilance should start early; even one bad sunburn in childhood is connected with increased risk.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it starts next week with Melanoma Monday, featuring free screenings in the bay area. Among them:

• USF Health physicians from the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery will offer free first-come, first-served screenings from 5 to 7 p.m. at the University of South Florida Medical Clinic, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa. Call (813) 974-4744.

• Morton Plant Mease physicians and other practitioners will offer free screenings by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon at Morton Plant Hospital, Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Pavilion, 455 Pinellas St., Clearwater, and at Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, Starkey Medical Tower, 6600 Madison St., New Port Richey. Call (727) 953-9044.

• St. Anthony's Hospital, 1200 Seventh Ave. N, St. Petersburg, will offer screenings by appointment from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a skin cancer prevention seminar led by dermatologist Margaret Kelleher. Call (727) 940-2700.

.Fast facts

Check it out

Experts say everyone should examine their own skin once a month. Use a mirror for hard-to-see places; melanoma sometimes shows up where the sun doesn't shine, such as between the toes. Go to, a site of the American Academy of Dermatology, to learn more about self-exams.

Two types of skin cancer

Most skin cancers can be removed before they become a real threat, but melanomas can spread rapidly through the body.


Look for these ABCDs, plus E for evolving: moles that change in size, shape, color or elevation.

Basal cell carcinoma

Most common kind of cancer; slow-growing; more than 95 percent can be cured, almost 100 percent if detected early.

Watch for small pale or reddish patches, often on a sun-exposed area.

Most at risk: People with fair skin; people continually exposed to the sun.




irregular edge

Color is uneven.

Diameter is at least 1/4 inch.

With early detection, most cases can be cured.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Associated Press

Skin Cancer Awareness Month brings free screenings 04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 6:24pm]
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