Skin cancer is preventable - get checked!

May 11, 2012 2:40:48 PM PDT
About one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer, even though it is highly preventable.

That's why May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. It's also why two local women are sharing their stories.

"We'll find ourselves in the same color scheme all the time," said Darlene Monaca of Logan Township New Jersey, who was diagnosed with skin cancer 11 years ago. Darlene had a basal cell growth removed from her eyelid.

Then, this past winter, her sister Tammy Lee asked doctor to check out what seemed to be like a small stye in her left eye.

"The same exact eye, same exact place," said Tammy. It was also basal cell cancer.

The growth was removed and plastic surgeon Susan Hughes reconstructed the area.

Tammy's physical scars are fading, but the sisters know skin cancer isn't out of the picture.

"She does have a 30% chance of getting a skin cancer someplace else on her body," said Dr. Hughes.

VIDEO: Ali Gorman explains the A,B,C,D,E of skin cancer.

Darlene did have other cancerous spots. If left untreated, basal cell cancer can invade deeper tissues and even bone.

Dr. Hughes says a family history of skin cancer, and repeated sun exposure, can lead to skin cancer. It can happen at any age and with any skin color.

"I had a black patient come in with basal cell cancer. She just didn't believe that it was," said Dr. Hughes.

You have the highest risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, if have gotten a bad sunburn or you use a tanning booth.

Darlene and Tammy Lee were never sun-worshippers but were outside a lot. Now they are more vigilant about using sunscreen.

"I have a bottle in my car, in every bathroom of my home," said Darlene.

There are several free skin cancer screening events this month:

Free Skin Cancer Screenings

Hospital of University of Pennsylvania
Department of Dermatology at the Ruth & Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
3400 Civic Center Blvd., First floor, Suite 1-330S (South Pavilion)
Free skin cancer screenings on Saturday, May 19 2012, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
CLICK HERE for more information.

Drexel Dermatology
219 N. Broad Street, 4th floor
Offering free skin cancer screenings on Thursday, May 24, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
No appointment necessary. Walk-ins welcome.

The Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group
1 World's Fair Drive, Suite 2400
Somerset, N.J.
A free skin cancer screening will be held for the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12.
Registration is required by calling 732-235-5782

Main Line Health- Riddle Hospital
1068 West Baltimore Pike
Media, PA 19063
Free skin cancer prevention screenings are available to anyone without a current dermatologist. Screenings are offered by appointment only.
Call 484-227-3163