MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As warmer weather begins to make its way into the area, people are starting to spend more time outside in the sun. Experts at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University and WVU Healthcare encourage you to protect your skin and will offer free skin cancer screenings from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13 at the Cancer Center.

Participants will be asked to complete a form describing their medical and sun exposure history and will be examined by a physician. If anything suspicious is found during the five-minute exam, the patient will be referred for a dermatology appointment. Advance registration is required by May 9. Call 304-598-4500 to make an appointment.

“Unlike some cancers, skin cancer can be detected at an early stage when it is curable,” Rodney Kovach, M.D., chief of the WVU Section of Dermatology, said. “Even melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, has a high cure rate if detected early. That is why it is so important to schedule an annual skin cancer screening by a physician.”  

Dr. Kovach recommends a monthly skin self-exam in addition to seeing a physician annually.

“You should check for things like changes in moles, dry and scaly rough patches, and slowly growing bumps,” he said. “Get to know your skin and what is and isn’t normal.”

Kovach added that two of the most important pieces of advice he can offer to prevent skin cancer is to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun and avoid tanning beds and sun lamps because both natural and manmade ultraviolet exposure are the primary causes of all skin cancers.

His other skin-cancer prevention tips include:
•    Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense
•    Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 daily
•    Wearing sunglasses that block the most harmful rays
•    Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a hat with a wide brim when outside

The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma every hour.

“Our annual skin cancer screening is an opportunity to continue raising awareness about skin cancer,” Kovach said, “and to remind and encourage people to follow advice on how to protect their skin.” 

For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
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