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Local doctors offer free skin cancer screenings on Saturday to address this leading cause of death

A doctor examining a birth mark as part of routine skin cancer screening
Damian Gretka/Damian Gretka
A doctor examines a birth mark as part of a routine skin cancer screening.

The University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health have joined forces to host a community wide skin cancer screening. Skin cancer kills 20 Americans per day, but is highly treatable if caught early.

Local dermatologists say free screening is the best way to make sure that everyone, including the underinsured and noninsured, has the chance to get examined.

“It's a community service endeavor that we really love to do,” said Dr. Nana Duffy, the lead physician for the division of dermatology at RRH. Duffy says the goal is to keep people protected from really bad skin cancers that could be treated early, like melanoma.

"If I save someone from dying from melanoma, I did my job," Duffy said.

This event is held annually to recognize May as national Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, but is highly treatable if caught early, before it becomes invasive.

“Early detection is what we stress all the time,” said Marc Brown, a professor of dermatology and oncology at URMC. That's been tough during the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a backlog of cancer screening appointments. Brown said the free screening on May 7 will give patients a chance to come in and get checked if the pandemic kept them away from routine check-ups.

“We are still trying to play catch-up,” Brown said. “This is just one more opportunity to make ourselves available.”

The free clinic will be held from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the University of Rochester main dermatology department hub, 40 Celebration Drive, Rochester, NY 14620. For more information see UR’s calendar page