CURIOUS about that mole or changing freckle? Now is the time to get it checked out by a dermatologist for free – and put any concerns to rest – at the annual skin cancer screening clinic.

The clinic is being held at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre on Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment is necessary. All participating dermatologists and dermatology residents are volunteering their time at the skin cancer screening clinic, hosted by the Canadian Dermatology Association as part of their Sun Awareness Program.

“Clinics like this one are important because it allows us to educate people and potentially catch skin cancer early while it’s still highly treatable,” said Dr. Jason Rivers, one of Canada’s leading experts in melanoma. “Members of the community have the opportunity to meet with a dermatologist or dermatology resident without a referral, and learn about skin cancer screening.

“Screening is important as skin cancer can occur on places not readily visible like the back, behind the ears and between the toes. Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Canada. Each year more than 85,000 Canadians are diagnosed with skin cancer, a number eight times the population of Whistler. Our latest figures report that approximately 6,800 Canadians received a melanoma diagnosis in 2015.

“It’s important to remember that people should wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses before heading outdoors, whether they are going to the beach, taking a walk or hiking the mountains.”

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. Of these cancers, melanoma is the most dangerous type. The other two most common types of diagnosed skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In Canada, up to 70% of all melanomas cases are first identified by patients (53%) or by close family members (17%), ultimately showing the importance of self-screening. Dermatologists are medical doctors that specialize in skin, hair and nails, and are experts at identifying and diagnosing skin cancer.

Skin and eyes sun-safe tips for all year around:

  1. Regularly perform a skin evaluation. See a dermatologist if you have any concerns since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  2. Avoid the sun as much as possible between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during summer months when the UV Index is 3 or higher; seek shade or use an umbrella for shade.
  3. Wear close-fitting wraparound sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses all year around. Look for glasses labelled with the Canadian Dermatology Association logo that guarantees “UV400” or “100% UV protection”.
  4. Cover your skin as much as possible with clothing that is appropriate for your activity and the weather.
  5. Use a “broad spectrum” and “water-resistant” sunscreen with a minimum 30 sun-protection factor (SPF) and reapply as necessary.
  6. Avoid UV tanning equipment and deliberately trying to get a suntan.
  7. Top it all off with a wide-brim hat to keep UV rays off the scalp, face, ears and neck.

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