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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

Free Screening this Weekend Will Identify Possible Skin Cancers

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If you haven’t been checked for skin cancer in a while—or ever—and you think you might be at risk, you can sign up for a free screening this weekend.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky tells us more.

There are basically two types of skin cancer:  non-melanomas and melanomas.  Autumn Bragg, community oncology educator at CoxHealth, said non-melanomas often look like abrasions or pimples that won’t heal.

"Something that may bleed over and over again, something you've had for weeks.  Sometimes they can be like a raised, reddish patch that's itchy," she said.

Melanomas tend to look more like abnormal moles with undefined borders.  According to Bragg, they’re asymmetrical--meaning that if you cut them in half the two sides would be different.  And they’re sometimes more than one color.  Melanomas are a lot more aggressive than non-melanomas.

"It can spread throughout the body and sometimes can be very deadly if not cared for immediately," she said.

Skin cancer affects more than three million Americans each year, according to Bragg .  An event this weekend will allow you to be checked for skin cancer for free.  It’s set for Saturday (5/7) from 8 am to noon at Hulston Cancer Center.  Anyone at least 18 who is not under the care of a dermatologist can register through tomorrow (5/5) at 269-INFO. 

"You know, a lot of people don't have a dermatologist just regularly that they see, so this kind of gives people an opportunity, if there's something that they're worried about, that they can come in and see if that might be something that they need to go on and seek further medical care for," she said.

Appointments will take about ten minutes each.  According to Bragg, dermatologists will donate their time to conduct the screenings, and you can have a specific spot checked or be checked head to toe.

There are risk factors for skin cancer, she said.

"You know, the biggest risk factor is exposure to ultra-violet light, whether that be from the natural sun or someone who's been in tanning beds, if you're fair-skinned, if you sunburn easily or if you've had a childhood with many sunburns that have blistered," she said.

According to Bragg, it’s important that people get to know their bodies and do regular skin checks.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.