Jeff De La Rosa 2017-11-08 23:57:01
Skin cancer screenings expand AAD’s reach "Public awareness and education are the most important parts of what the AAD does to protect society and patients." – Linda Susan Marcus, MD In the battle against skin cancer, one of the most powerful tools is also one of the simplest: free skin cancer screenings provided by volunteer dermatologists. The American Academy of Dermatology’s free screening program has evolved considerably over the years, and yet the Academy is dedicated to pushing this life-saving effort even further. “There’s been a concerted effort to do more,” says dermatologist Thomas C. Hall, MD, chair of the AAD’s Melanoma/Skin Cancer Community Programs Committee. Between this year and last year, the AAD has increased the number of targeted free screenings provided, in large part by partnering with fraternal organizations, health fairs, and trade shows. Working with such groups helps the program to target populations at special risk for skin cancer. It also helps volunteers to reach many people who might not otherwise walk through the door of a dermatologist’s office. Targeted approach Each year, volunteer dermatologists conduct free screenings through the AAD’s SPOTme skin cancer screening program. The program was founded in 1985. Since then, volunteer dermatologists have conducted more than 2.4 million screenings. The screenings have identified about 250,000 suspicious lesions, including 27,500 suspected melanomas. “That’s the skin cancer we worry about most,” says Dr. Hall, “as it can be deadly if not caught early.” Thanks to a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2014, the Academy was able to conduct specialized review and analysis to improve the program, in addition to developing a strategic approach to reach targeted audiences. By any measure, the SPOTme program has been an astounding success — but if the program is to continue to evolve, the Academy has realized it must adopt an even broader and more proactive approach. Recently, the Academy has taken a hard look at the program in terms of budget and impact. One of the ideas that came out of this process was partnering with other organizations. Such partnerships help the Academy’s SPOTme program to save lives, increase public awareness of skin cancer, and advance the specialty of dermatology. A life-saving endeavor Saving lives is the immediate goal of these free-screening partnerships. “Obviously, we want to be able to help the patient,” says board-certified dermatologist Linda Susan Marcus, MD, who is in private practice in Wyckoff, New Jersey and is the director of dermatology at Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, New Jersey. “Hopefully, we want to pick up dangerous lesions early and not let them go by the wayside.” Accordingly, she has participated in countless screenings as a volunteer. “Whether people are in denial or they just don’t realize it, they may think, ‘Oh it’s just a flat thing, I’ve had that forever.’ They have actually let it go forever.” Free screenings enable a board-certified dermatologist to make an intervention in such cases, she says. Dr. Marcus, who is also on the board of directors of the Women’s Dermatological Society, recalls identifying a stage III melanoma at a volunteer screening. “The woman was very grateful that we caught it in time, and I was grateful that she came to the screening.” Dr. Hall is impressed by the power of such screenings to identify dangerous lesions that the patient may not have suspected. “One thing that sticks out the most to me is the number of times a patient comes in for a screening to have the dermatologist look at a specific lesion, and the one they wanted checked is okay, but a dangerous lesion is detected elsewhere.” "Free screenings have always been a great tool to catch skin cancers early among patients who may not be able to come see a dermatologist otherwise." – Thomas C. Hall, MD Public awareness and the power of partnership Screening partnerships do not just save lives by identifying dangerous lesions, however. They also help to increase public awareness of the dangers of skin cancer. “Public awareness and education are the most important parts of what the AAD does to protect society and patients,” observes Dr. Marcus. “We save more lives by getting people to learn about protecting themselves from the sun, to use sunscreen, to watch their skin, and to be conscious of the benefits of shade.” To Dr. Hall, offering screenings at a partnering organization’s convention or trade show offers a unique opportunity to get the word out about skin cancer. “It helps to increase awareness in the community where we do the screening. To advertise where people walk by makes them more aware.” Dermatologist Diane Ford, MD, of DSF Cosmetic & Medical Dermatology in Frederick, Maryland, has seen the power of partnered screenings change not just the attitudes of individuals, but entire organizations. “Early on in my career,” she recalls, “I was asked to do a skin cancer screening for line workers at a local utility company. One surprising outcome of the event was that the company began to issue sun screen to its employees.” From the AAD’s perspective, one of the major advantages of partnerships is that they enable dermatologists to bring both their services and their message to novel patient populations. “Free screenings have always been a great tool to catch skin cancers early among patients who may not be able to come see a dermatologist otherwise,” says Dr. Hall. “We are able to reach a population that can’t make it to our office during normal business hours.” Target groups involved in latest screenings When you think of people likely to walk into a dermatologist’s office, farmers are probably not the first to come to mind. And yet farmers spend their days working in the sunshine. Also, many farmers are men over the age of 50, a group particularly at risk for skin cancer. This year, the AAD reached out to farmers attending the Western Farm Show. The annual indoor trade show draws farmers from across the U.S. Midwest. A new attraction for 2017 was a SPOTme screening booth in the show’s Health and Safety area. Diane Olson, director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, said, “I was amazed and pleased with the number of attendees who took advantage of this unique opportunity. Many came to the area seeking this screening thanks to the publicity in advance of the show.” Another group that is helping the AAD reach the vulnerable 50-and-over male population is the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). For the past two years, AAD volunteer dermatologists have conducted free SPOTme screenings at the VFW’s annual convention. Vanessa Kane, a spokesperson for the VFW, said of skin cancer and the free screenings, “The VFW and Auxiliary conventions are a great opportunity to encourage attending members to focus on this important health issue. These screenings are especially important for those who are over 50. Thanks to the Academy for providing this great service for our veterans.” Partnering and beyond For organizations such as these, partnering with the AAD is one of the easiest ways to make a meaningful contribution to the health of their members. Says Dr. Marcus, “The AAD is the final word, the highest organization in charge of skin cancer screenings, the definitive authority on the skin and skin problems. Therefore, AAD can advise these other organizations on how to run a screening properly and effectively.” For members of the partnering organizations, the screenings provide easy access to top-notch dermatological care. “We try to make it as easy as possible,” says Dr. Hall. “There’s just the one-page form, not a lot of paperwork. For a person who is concerned about their skin, it’s a good way to get peace of mind or to find something early enough to make it easy to treat.” Patients are not the only ones to benefit from partnered screenings. For dermatologists, volunteering to conduct screenings provides a rewarding opportunity to give back to the community. Dr. Ford observes, “The patients always seem genuinely interested and grateful for the attention. In many instances, they are unaware of what to be concerned about and how to protect their skin.” She also notes that participating in volunteer screenings is a great way to advance the public perception of dermatology. “Interacting with one patient positively creates such goodwill. After a screening, patients invariably come in for further evaluation, or friends and family come in because they were given advice or heard about the screening.” Dr. Hall agrees that participating in such screenings “maintains our position as experts in skin cancer.” The Academy will continue to look for ways to reach those at risk. That’s literally everyone under the sun. But the incredible success of the endeavor has shown that by targeting and partnering with those groups most at risk, the Academy can change the future, one screening at a time. Host a free skin cancer screening in your community! To learn more, please visit: www.aad.org/members/volunteer/skin-cancer-screening-program AAD-sponsored screenings in 2017 NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo Total Health & Fitness Expo MLB Umpire Screening Golf Industry Show Western Farm Show NBC4 & Telemundo 47 Health & Fitness Expo National Veterans Golden Age Games 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix Shriners Imperial Session Senate Wellness Fair Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention AMVETS National Convention Men’s Health Event Prevent Cancer Foundation 5k Walk/Run & Health Care Knowing that men over 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma compared to the general population, in 2017 the AAD focused on reaching this audience with a strategic approach. By partnering with 14 organizations — such as fraternal groups, health and fitness shows, farming expos, and Golf Industry Show — skin cancer screenings coordinated by the AAD reached people across the U.S.
Published by American Academy Of Dermatology. View All Articles.
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