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JA workshop explores skin cancer causes, prevention

“If it doesn’t look right, it needs to come off.”

That was practically the mantra at the Junior Auxiliary’s skincancer forum held at the Brookhaven Recreation Department Mondaynight.

“They have a rule – if it looks funny, it needs to come off,”said Dr. Burnett Hanson as he addressed the crowd of men and womenof all ages.

Hanson and Dr. Michael Peavey spoke to the group, answeringtheir questions and telling them how to detect warning signs ofvarious kinds of cancer.

“Unfortunately we treat a lot of skin cancer because we have ageneration that didn’t understand how skin cancer was derived,”Hanson said. “Unfortunately I also think we have another generationwho doesn’t understand that either.”

Hanson talked about the three main types of skin cancers: basalcell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which is themost deadly. He stressed that if the appearance of a mole orfreckle seems to change in symmetry, border, color or diameter,it’s time to have it looked at.

In addition, he said, melanoma is the most common cancer inyoung adults ages 25-29, and is second only to breast cancer inwomen ages 30-35.

“It increases 4 percent per year, and there is one melanomadeath in this country per hour,” he said.

Most importantly, the two doctors stressed the hazards ofextended sun exposure, even if a person is not worried about skincancer.

“Sunburn actually damages your skin,” Hanson said. “It causeswrinkles too. How much money do people spend on Botox? All you haveto do is not be in the sun.”

But more than that, Hanson said, people don’t seem to understandthat tanning is the body’s response to a skin injury.

“Every time you tan, you accumulate that damage to the skin aswell as accelerating the aging process,” he said. “Tanning ispretty ridiculous if you’re planning on living to be an oldperson.”

Peavey agreed.

“If you don’t take home any other message from tonight, takethis home: Use sun protection, don’t get sunburned, and go to thedoctor,” he said, adding that doctors use radiation to kill cancercells, and the sun’s radiation, in the same way, is killing skincells.

Junior Auxiliary members were excited about the turnout for theevent, saying the event held information that could help people ofall ages.

“We’re very excited for the turnout, and we’re glad everyonecame out on a Monday afternoon with the fair going on to find outabout saving your life or that of someone you know,” said JA memberLori Carter.