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Free Skin Cancer Screening: May 18
May 8, 2007, Volume 53, No. 33

With warmer temperatures, many of us find ourselves outdoors more often and for longer periods of time and with less protection for our skin, which translates to more skin exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, many of us do not think about sun protection until the summer; however, good sun protection habits should be practiced year round to reduce risk of developing skin cancer, particularly melanoma. To increase awareness of the importance of early detection, the Abramson Cancer Center and the department of dermatology are sponsoring a free skin cancer screening is being offered. The screening will be held on Friday, May 18 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Space is limited and registration is required. Please call (215) 662-2737 for more information or to register.

While melanoma accounts for only 3 percent of all skin cancer cases, it is one of the most common cancers in people under age 30 and results in the most skin cancer deaths.

The earlier melanoma is detected, the better the chance of successfully treating it. Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center has one of the nation’s leading programs dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malignant melanomas.

Melanoma begins in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that make melanin, which gives skin its color. Melanin also protects the deeper layers of the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

When people spend time in the sunlight, the melanocytes make more melanin and cause the skin to tan. This also happens when skin is exposed to other forms of ultraviolet light, such as tanning booths. If the skin receives too much ultraviolet light, the melanocytes may begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous.

In men, melanomas are often found between the shoulders and hips, or the head and neck area. In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs as well as between the shoulders and hips.

See the Penn Health & Wellness Newsletter at http://pennhealth.com/feature/may07/cancer.html for tips to protect yourself from the sun and to learn the risk factors for melanoma.

Almanac - May 8, 2007, Volume 53, No. 33