Seminar looks at skin cancer awareness

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer is traditionally a time of beaches and barbecues,spending time in the sun and building a golden tan.

The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven wants men, women and childrenof all ages to remember sun safety, however, and are holding a skincancer awareness seminar Monday night at 6 p.m. at the BrookhavenRecreation Department to spread the word.

Junior Auxiliary member Lori Carter said the idea stemmed fromher own experience with skin cancer when she was only 25 yearsold.

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“If I had known as a teenager that tanning beds were as harmfulas the sun, I wouldn’t have tanned as much as I did,” she said.”It’s important to teach teenagers of all ages the preventativemeasures, and that it’s okay to be in the sun, but usesunscreen.”

For that reason, Carter and the other first-year JA membersworked to put the clinic together with Dr. Michael Peavey of theBrookhaven Surgery Clinic and Dr. Burnett Hanson of the MississippiCancer Institute as featured speakers.

“All ages, all skin types, anybody with skin needs to be thereto learn,” Carter said. “Times have changed now that there’s somuch research that shows that the days of being in the sun withoutprotection are over.”

Carter said statistics show skin cancer jumps by 75 percent inpeople who start using the tanning bed before age 30, and that aperson’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five ormore sunburns in his or her life.

“It’s the most common form of cancer. There are more than 1million cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually,” Carter said,adding that the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma arewhite men over the age of 50 who may not be thinking about theamount of ultraviolet rays that they’ve built up over theyears.

From 6 to 6:30 p.m. a booth will be set up where the doctorswill answer questions from the public, Carter said. She encouragedanyone who has a suspect spot on their skin to attend even just forthat.

“Just go and get it looked at. If it’s something that doesn’tseem right, it needs to be looked at,” she said. “It’s 10 minutesof your time to see if it’s something to be dismissed or if it’ssomething you need to look into.”

The seminar itself will begin at 6:30, and doctors will discussthe warning signs of skin cancer and ways to prevent it. Cartersaid the seminar is not just geared toward the traditionalstereotype of people who are at a high risk for skin cancer.

“Research shows you can have it at any age,” she said. “Eveninfants and toddlers can have it.”