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Free skin cancer screening offered by local health groups

Free skin cancer screenings will be held on Saturday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to noon at the New Richmond Clinic to coincide with Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, Westfields Hospital Specialty Clinic and WWMA-New Richmond Clinic.

To schedule a screening appointment, call 715-243-7277. Limited walk-in appointments will be available the day of the event. Call early as appointment slots fill quickly. Participants are asked to arrive 10 minutes prior to their appointed time.

The screenings will have the oversight of Tasso Pappas, dermatologist. There will be a total of three practitioners involved in the screening as part of a national campaign to encourage early detection and teach prevention of skin cancer. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.

The first Monday in May has been designated Melanoma Monday as the academy's national detection and prevention program to raise awareness specifically of melanoma and urge Americans to regularly examine their skin for signs of this serious form of skin cancer.

"We want everyone to consider Melanoma Monday the first day of a lifelong habit of examining their skin," said Pappas. "Melanoma Monday is like New Year's Day for dermatologists. It's a day when we encourage everyone to start a new life-saving habit."

Skin self-examinations consist of periodically looking over your body for any changes in the size, color, shape or texture of a mole, the development of a new mole or any other unusual changes in the skin. Any of these signs should be reported to a dermatologist right away.

To do a thorough self-exam, it's important to use both a full-length and a hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your head, your back and buttocks. Don't forget places like your scalp, the soles of your feet and between your toes, under your arms and the palms of your hands.

A survey commissioned by the academy showed that fewer than one-third of Americans currently examine their skin for signs of melanoma and more than half don't know the signs of melanoma. Dermatologists want to change this because when treated in its earliest stages, melanoma can be cured. If not treated early, the disease can quickly spread to other parts of the body and can be fatal.

"The key to the successful treatment of most types of cancer is early detection and treatment," Pappas said.

Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.