Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Melanoma Monday kicks off screenings

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        No kidding around, taking your clothes off next week really could save your life.

        Some 40 skin specialists from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will offer free skin cancer screenings. The screenings start Monday — a nationwide public awareness day called Melanoma Monday — and run through Friday.

        Last year, more than 1,300 Greater Cincinnatians participated in the skin screenings, and some stage of skin cancer was detected 10-14 percent of them. If skin cancers are found in their earliest stages, they can be treated easily and effectively.

        “Melanoma Monday is the dermatologists' version of the Great American Smokeout where everyone gives up cigarettes, but instead of giving up a habit, we're asking people to start one,” says dermatologist Dr. Charles Fixler, coordinator of the annual program. “We want everyone to consider Melanoma Monday the first day of a lifelong habit of examining their skin.”

        Nationally, U.S. dermatologists have screened one million people in the last 14 years, and 1999 marks Cincinnati's 12th year for participating in the free skin checks, says Dr. Fixler.

        People at the highest risk for skin cancer include those who:

        • Are fair-skinned.

        • Burn easily.

        • Have blue, green or gray eyes.

        • Experienced excessive sun exposure as a child (especially blistering sunburns before age 20).

        • Have a family history of skin cancer.

        • Have more than 100 moles on the body (more than 50 if you're under 20).

        Last year, when more than 1,300 Tristate people were screened, Cincinnati was ranked fifth in the country for participation. Of those screened, 10-12 percent were found to have basal cell cancers, 1 percent had squamous cell cancers and another 1 percent had the most dangerous form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. It's the fastest-growing type of skin cancer and the most likely to spread to other organs.


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