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Video available on how to do self-exams for skin cancer

Citizen Staff Writer



A new tool to detect skin cancer has been made public by the Arizona Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute.

“Skin Cancer: Learn to Spot it Early” is a 12-minute video that shows how to do skin self-exams to find growths that could be or lead to cancers, said Lois Loescher, the institute’s director of education and behavior research.

The video may be found at www.azskincancerinstitute.org/SCVideos.aspx.

“The whole purpose of doing the video is getting people to do skin self-exams,” she said. “Everyone should know how to examine his or her skin regardless of risk factor.

“Early detection really plays a role in survival from skin cancer,” Loescher said. “It’s very important to protect yourself from the sun, but if you don’t catch it early, you increase your chances of having the disease be much more serious.”

A study proved the video’s effectiveness, she said.

“We found a highly significant change – more people were doing skin self-exams after viewing the video,” Loescher said. “We also found a very significant change in knowledge; they had more knowledge about melanoma.”

The video stresses the importance of early detection of skin cancers. Melanoma survival rates are 98 percent if detected early, she said.

The video recommends that people carefully examine their skin each month for changes in moles and spots.

Hand-held and full-length mirrors are needed for an effective self-exam.

Things to look for in moles and spots include asymmetry, border irregularities, color variation, diameter larger than a pencil eraser and changing appearance and feel.

People finding anything suspicious should contact their primary care physician or dermatologist.

Producing the video and testing its effectiveness were funded with a $25,000 Laurence B. Emmons Endowment, said Loescher, principal investigator of the project.

The video was released on the institute’s Web site Friday and shown at a Living in Harmony with the Sun event Saturday and Sunday at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The event was to promote sun safety, awareness and skin cancer prevention.

A follow-up video on skin cancer prevention tactics is planned, Loescher said.

The video won the American Academy of Dermatology’s Gold Triangle Award, said Jennifer L. Allyn, spokeswomen for the Schaumburg, Ill., organization.

The award recognizes efforts that further understanding of dermatologic issues and encourage healthy behaviors in the care of skin, hair and nails, Allyn said.

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