May is skin cancer awareness month.
In keeping with the theme, two local doctors with more than 25 years of experience in treating the diseases are continuing their long-standing practice of providing free skin cancer screenings.
Drs. Jeffrey Morgan and Gary McAfoos will hold a free screening from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, May 24, at Family Medicine Pine Grove.
Pre-registration is required. Those who wish to receive a screening may call 723-2770 to set up a time.
"Screenings can sometimes pick up early lesions," that a person might not have otherwise noticed, Morgan said.
A screening is not a substitute for regular doctor visits, McAfoos said, but they fill a void.
"A lot of people don't go to doctors regularly and doctors don't look people over head to toe to look for skin lesions on a regular basis," he said. "This is a way to reach people out in the community that don't see doctors regularly."
People who notice any change in a spot on their skin - a lesion - should, "not wait around for a free screening," McAfoos said. "If you see something on your skin that looks different or has changed you should go see your doctor right away."
"There are three types of skin cancers, melanoma being the most deadly," Morgan said. "With early screening and early pick-up it's a much more potentially curable problem."
The reason early detection is key is because of the available treatments.
"The most appropriate treatment for early melanomas and other skin cancers is surgical," Morgan said.
"Melanoma is a potentially fatal skin cancer," McAfoos said. "There is no good treatment for melanoma beyond surgery. Once it spreads, then surgery is no longer curative and there's no other good treatment for it."
Melanoma is the type of cancer that is growing fastest in terms of the number of new cases each year.
In Warren County, the relative number of skin cancer cases is high, in part due to the ancestry of many of the county's residents.
"In Warren County, skin cancers are quite common because of our largely northern European-based population," Morgan said. "The light-skinned people get them more frequently."
"The more fair your skin the more at risk you are for skin cancer," McAfoos said.