Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Skin exam takes 10 minutes

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        During a 10-minute skin-cancer examination, doctors check all areas of the body and trouble spots most prone to skin cancer.

        Doctors examine patients' skin closely for suspicious lesions or growths. They also advise people to protect their skin — use sunscreen lotions, wear protective clothing, wisely expose skin to sun and avoid tanning booths.

        The doctor fills out a one-page form for each patient indicating family history, common sunning habits and locations on the body — front, back, head, face, scalp, feet — where moles and suspicious lesions are found.

        People suspected of having skin cancer are told to follow up with a dermatologist for tests and possible treatment.

        “With melanoma, early detection is easy because the signs are right there, visible on the surface of the skin,” says Dr. Charles Fixler, Cincinnati dermatologist and coordinator of this year's skin cancer screening program.

        Part of this year's campaign includes a the Skin Cancer Foundation's “Dressing for Sun Protection” program. A free brochure, Get Smart! Go Under Cover! is available by calling (800) 754-6490.

        Among the clothing-related tips for sun exposure:

        • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats.

        • Choose tight-weave clothing. Light cotton T-shirts and polo shirts, for example, have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 6-7, below the SPF 15 recommended by skin experts. Best choices are unbleached cotton, wool or polyester.

        Choose loose-fitting clothes over stretchy fabrics or skin-hugging fabrics. Best colors are deep blue, black or bright orange and bright red.

        • What: Free skin cancer screenings.

        • When: Offered week of May 3-7 by 40 Tristate dermatologists.

        • How: Call American Cancer Society 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays through May 7 at 891-9615 for appointment with a specialist near you.


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