Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, with more than 2 million cases each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
But Jim Palmer and lots of other people don’t know the signs. Palmer and his wife Kim of Bear, Del., registered for the first of three screening sessions at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, each attended by about 100 people who wanted to learn more about prevention and skin cancers including melanoma, the most dangerous form of the disease.
“I was always at the beach as a kid, and my dad had a patch removed from his forehead,” Palmer says. “But I don’t have any idea what to look for, and I am glad for the chance to get checked out by a dermatologist.”
For 21 years, Christiana Care has been shedding light on the disease, offering free screenings in order to diagnose skin cancer early, when it is highly curable, and educating people so they can take steps to prevent the disease.
Kim Palmer makes it a practice to wear sunscreen when she works in the garden or enjoys her backyard swimming pool. She wanted to educate herself so she can teach her children about prevention.
“We have two sons, and I want to get the facts so we can convince our kids of the importance of always wearing sun block, even when we aren’t around to remind them,” she says.
As a child, Terry Cordrey of Middletown, Del., suffered several severe incidents of sunburn, a risk factor for skin cancer along with fair skin and irregular moles. As a teenager, she did a lot of tanning with no sunscreen, just baby oil and iodine.
“I’ve had numerous basal cells and even squamous cells, which are more serious—and my mom had melanoma,” Cordrey says. “When a friend sent me an e-mail about the free screening, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a dermatologist do a thorough check.”
Christiana Care partnered with the Delaware chapter of the American Academy of Dermatology for the event, with dermatologists volunteering their services. A comprehensive exam of the entire body was conducted for each participant, including looking between fingers and toes, at the soles of the feet, behind the ears and at the scalp.
The dermatologists and the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center team screened 319 individuals.
“An important part of the mission is getting the word out to people of color, who often are not aware that they can get skin cancer, and to provide free screenings for those who are uninsured” says Nora Katurakes, Christiana Care’s manager of Community Health Outreach & Education.
Christiana Care promoted the event through multiple channels, including newspaper notices, websites, e-mail blasts, Facebook, Twitter and flyers distributed at the New Castle Farmers Market and other community-outreach venues.
“The fact that there are individuals from the African-American and the Asian community at the screenings indicate we are breaking down barriers to care and are succeeding in reaching people from many cultures,” Katurakes says.
Learn more about summer skin care
Learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of the sun in this audio podcast.
Photo gallery: Skin cancer screening and education event
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