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Summer To-Do List: Stock Up on Sunscreen and Get Checked for Skin Cancer

It's Monday afternoon after another warm, sunnyweekend here in Philadelphia, and that familiar reddish tint of sunburn is onfaces all around me. As we emerge from a particularly gloomy and coldwinter,  people have been embracing every opportunity to spend timeoutside, but we're apparently out of practice when it comes to remembering toapply sunscreen.

Spring is the perfect time to replenishyour sunscreen supply, and take a few minutes to get your skin checked. If younotice any suspicious spots, or haven't had a full-body skin screening in ayear or two, now is the time.

Just in time for the summer, PennDermatology and the Abramson Cancer Center's annual and free skin cancerscreening will be held on May 18. If you haven't signed up already, orknow someone who may need to get their skin cancer checked, call 215-662-2737to schedule an appointment, as space is limited. A large team Penndermatologists will be screening 300 patients in 4 hours; it only takes a proabout 7 minutes to assess your skin.

Even editors at Men’s Healthhave been reminding readers to get their skin checked during May's Skin CancerAwareness Month, noting that "if you’re in the Philadelphia area, you can see our friends at Penn Dermatology, where a free screening is offeredon May 18, 2013." The editor reminded readers that:

"Youcould have skin cancer. It happened to me—lots of times! So far: five surgeries(two on my face), four 30-day treatments of Efudex (a topical chemo thateradicates precancerous cells), and several “sketchy” spots that were frozen orscraped off. Fun! (You can read about my experience in the story, Will I Look Like aMonster?)"

Penn dermatologists are on constantlook-out for skin signs of systemic diseases, and are often sought out fortheir ability to diagnose advanced and complex medical dermatology cases. Thedepartment meets weekly to solve challenging cases and teach each other aboutthese uncommon conditions.

In one woman's serendipitous visit to Penn,doctors not only found suspicious spots on her skin, her doctor made apotentially life-saving diagnosis by recognizing a genetic syndrome linked toincreased internal cancers based solely on her skin examination.

And through new partnership between Penn Dermatologyand the City of Philadelphia's health clinics, Philadelphians now have accessto dermatology experts via their local clinic. Primary Care physicians at theclinics are now connected to Penn dermatologists, using a new app to helpdiagnosis skin conditions. Just last month, a case of invasive melanoma wasidentified through this AccessDerm program at one of the city health clinics.

For the last five years, Penn's Carrie Kovarik, MD, AssistantProfessor of Dermatology, has led efforts to connect doctors from around theworld (e.g. Botswana, Egypt, Uganda and Guatemala) with Penn Dermatologists, toassist local physicians in diagnosing and providing treatment recommendationsfor various skin conditions. Here's a video about the pilot partnership inBotswana:

Given the utility and success of the globalprogram, efforts in the U.S. ramped up. Now, the AccessDerm program has beenrolled out at more than 25 clinics throughout the city. Patients who come withdermatologic conditions to many of the Philadelphia Department of Public Healthclinics, Sayre Health Center, and Jonathan Lax Center can now get a secondopinion seamlessly.

Theearlier you can identify and take care of skin concerns, the better, so take usup on this free screening! Preventionis key, so please take care of yourself throughout the year - avoidindoor tanning salons and rememberthe sunscreen this summer!

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