May 11, 2013
National Skin Cancer Awareness Month is underway and UVa Health System hosted a free skin screening on Sunday to check skin health and also give cancer prevention tips before the summer rays do their damage.
Cathy and Jim Popp of Charlottesville spent their Saturday morning getting their screenings.
"We come here with a white coat fear of what are they gonna find, you know, is there something wrong? But if you don't come, and wait 5 years, you could've gotten it solved sooner," said Jim after receiving his own male 'sun hat' which came with the screening.
More than 200 people walked in or made appointments with the dermatology department to get their skin checked.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
"As we get older we're more aware that we were foolish children. We burned ourselves, you know, we didn't know any better," said Jim.
"I grew up in Florida and I don't tan and I thought being red as a lobster was better than being pale," Cathy said.
Doctor Mark Russell, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at UVa says skin cancer isn't always something you can see or feel. And even if it is, than you might not know if it's something to be worried about.
"Skin cancer starts off usually very subtle and over time grows to become more distinctive," Russell said. "But it's in that early phase when skin cancer's fairly new that we have the best chance of treating it effectively and having a good outcome so that's why we think it's important to get screened if there's any question that there's anything suspicious on the skin."
With summer on its way the Popp's say the free screening keeps them a step ahead of any cancer.
"It's all about early detection, it's extremely important." Cathy said.
But most of all, it keeps them together.
"And I want to keep my wife so I'm glad she's here."
More than 3 million skin cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year alone.
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