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MAY 1, 2009
  “Seven Minutes that Can Save Your Life”
  Penn Medicine Dermatologists Offer FREE Skin Cancer Screenings May 16

PHILADELPHIA – Penn Medicine dermatologists will offer free skin cancer screenings on Saturday, May 16 from 8 a.m. to noon at the new Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Appointments are necessary and space is limited. Call 215-662-2737 to make a reservation and for more information. The screening is sponsored by Penn Medicine’s Department of Dermatology and the Abramson Cancer Center.

“At last year’s skin cancer screening, Penn dermatologists examined 235 patients,” says Christopher Miller, MD, assistant professor of Dermatology and director of Dermatologic Surgery at Penn Medicine. “Of that amount, 115 patients required additional treatment. That high number shows why it is so important to take advantage of an opportunity to have a dermatologist check your skin for any signs of cancer.” 

During the screening – which only takes about seven minutes – dermatologists will thoroughly examine each person to look for any unusual or suspicious spots on the body.

“Prevention and early detection are the keys to protecting yourself from skin cancer,” Miller says. “While most skin cancers appear after age 50, skin damage from the sun begins at a much earlier age. Increasing numbers of younger people are getting skin cancers. That is why it’s so important to start protecting our skin in early childhood to prevent skin cancer later in life.”

About Skin Cancer:

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, affecting about one in five Americans at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If left untreated, skin cancer can cause disfigurement, loss of function of important structures in the body and death. Fortunately, the vast majority of skin cancers are curable if they are detected early and treated effectively.   

  • Signs of skin cancer can include:
  • Rough spots that feel like sandpaper on the head, neck, hands or forearms
  • A new growth that doesn’t go away
  • Pink spots or bumps that never go away
  • Brown or black spots that are new or changing

While skin cancer rates are higher for Caucasians, studies have shown that melanoma is deadlier and the incidence is rising in skin of color. In addition, recent research by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has found that people who tan easily and have genetic variants in a particular gene may be at high risk for melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

“Traditionally, a doctor might look at a person with dark hair who did not sunburn easily and classify them as having a lower risk for melanoma, but that may not be true for all people,” says Peter Kanetsky, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “Because there is not yet a clinical test for these genetic variants, it remains important for everyone to receive skin screenings from a physician.”

General risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Excessive exposure to the sun or tanning beds
  • Sunburns in the past
  • Fair skin, light eyes or light hair
  • Freckles and moles
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • History of organ transplant and immunosuppressive treatments


PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.


Media Contacts
Kim Guenther
(215) 662-6183

Related Links
Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Health System

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