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Life-Saving Reminders


Seth Forman C’94

The woman was in her second trimester of pregnancy when the melanoma, which began as a mole on her back, was found to have metastasized to her brain. She died months after her baby was born.
    “Nothing has hit me as hard as this,” says Seth Forman C’94, a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University who met the woman while participating in a radiation oncology fellowship. “Most people don’t think [skin cancer] can kill you.”
    With that concern in mind, Forman, who plans to be a dermatologist, has landed a $12,000 grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges to create a community-education program called Check Your Skin. “It’s really about encouraging people to take control of their health,” he says.
    The program, which will kick off in Richmond, Virginia, next spring, is centered around self-exam cards that encourage people to remember their ABC’s when they check moles and other lesions for asymmetry, border irregularity, color, diameter changes, and elevation differences. Made of waterproof plastic, the cards attach to bathroom mirrors or shower stalls with suction cups and are marked with a ruler to measure changes in mole size.
    At least 10,000 cards will be distributed at physician’s offices, community centers, nursing homes, and other locations. Baseline and follow-up surveys will be used to test people’s knowledge about skin-cancer detection and prevention. Forman, also a USC film school graduate, will develop public-service announcements for a local television station and launch a Web site, which will send out monthly “check your skin” reminders to all who register.
    Forman hopes the American Cancer Society will adopt the self-exam cards for its own education programs. “To find out this saved one person’s life would be a great thing.”

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Copyright 2001 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 8/24/01