Free skin cancer screenings tell people how to prevent skin cancer this summer

PADUCAH– You’ll probably be spending a lot of time outside in the sun this summer. When you head outside, you need to think about your health.

The American Cancer Society says about 5 million Americans find out they have skin cancer every year.  The Kentucky Cancer Program teamed up with Paducah Dermatology, Baptist Health Paducah and Lourdes Mercy Health to give free skin cancer screenings.

James Tidwell, M.D., says he tackles misconceptions about skin cancer everyday.

“Anyone can get skin cancer,” he said. “That’s kind of a false belief, that just if you’re red haired you get skin cancer, or fair skinned. All kinds of people from all kinds of life get it. Bob Marley died from melanoma.”

Melanoma is the rarest and deadliest skin cancer- but early detection can save lives. Tidwell is a Mohs surgeon at Paducah Dermatology. He removes thin layers of cancer-containing skin progressively until only cancer-free tissue remains.

He says he’d see less patients for surgery if they came in earlier like Loyd Reynolds.

“This place on the side of my face has been getting bigger over the last few years,” he said pointing to a spot above his eyebrow, “and I haven’t had time to make an appointment.”

Reynolds is a truck driver and used some vacation time to make this visit.

“They said it’s not dangerous, not really, its kind of intermediate,” he said.

You have to get a doctors check-up to get that kind of news. Skin cancer is one of the most treatable diseases — but you can’t treat it until you know you have it.

“If you do have skin cancer, if you do have something that is dangerous for your skin, its not cosmetic,” Tidwell said. “It is something apart of your normal health care that needs to be treated and insurances covers.”

It’s important to remember anyone can get skin cancer. Doctors recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen outside that has SPF 30 or higher.

Here’s a info-graphic on how to spot skin cancer: