Skin cancer screenings and other health services available at MacDill Air Force Base

09/14/11 Sarah Curran
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Florida is called the Sunshine State for an obvious reason. More than 5-thousand state residents are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. It’s why Moffitt Cancer Center is encouraging residents to get screened, free of charge. Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Moffitt Cancer Center rolled out the mole patrol, as they like to call it. They offer free Skin Cancer screenings to anyone, whether you have a particular concern or not.

“An exam of visible skin only, no biopsies it’s a visual screening only.”

Lois Rendina is the Mole Patrol coordinator. She and a team of doctors and volunteers can be found at multiple locations throughout the year. The Screening involves nothing more than filling out a simple form and letting a doctor take a look. Rendina says prevention is the best treatment.

“Skin cancer is highly curable if it’s caught early. And skin cancer rates in especially in Florida are going up, melanoma rates are going up, melanoma being the deadly form of skin cancer. Its crucial that it be caught early, even melanoma has a really high cure rate if its caught early, once it metastasizes it’s a whole different story.”

Military spouse Patti Staniewicz says she got the OK from the Skin cancer doctors.

“We are in the sun a lot. We got a boat in Florida, so even though we look good it never hurts to have someone else look at your body.”

Mole patrol doctor Diana Steven say they usually don’t see many issues when they attend fairs at locations like MacDill.

“I think it also depends on what kind of population that we are seeing. Like if we are gonna go to a particular place that is under served you might find something that is more concerning or malignant than a place were the population like here might get regular medical care.”

The mole patrol was on Base as part of MacDill’s Annual Health Expo. It offered medical advice from pretty much every spectrum of the medical field. Judy Simpson runs Memorial Hospital’s wound center booth. Judy points to a board full of pictures of body parts missing patches of skin.

“We take care of patients that look like this and worse, those are pretty mild pictures but today we are focusing on prevention or protection of the skin so you don’t end up with skin cancer and possibly need us for worse things”

She claims they aren’t gruesome but it’s not for the squeamish. The pictures show everything from head to toe.

“We see quite a bit of patients and its seems more recently, whether its on their legs, a lot on the head and face. And it can be really debilitating and that’s why it’s a soap box. Because I see these very nice people coming in with parts of their face gone. ”

However, Judy Simpson and Lois Rendina remind people simple measures can help keep the bodies biggest organ healthy.

“Really protect your skin! Places that people forget are the tops of your ears tip of your nose, for men more so than women on the top of the head. We have taken care of some pretty ugly cases for veterans on the top of the head.”

“You need to be wearing broad brim hat to protect your scalp. You also need UV protective sun glasses to protect your eyes from the sun. The sunscreen you use should be 30 to 50 SPF but most importantly it has to say that it is broad spectrum, it has to protect against both UV A and UV B rays”

The mole patrol will park its bus next at Leesburg on October 8. However, Tampa Residents can catch them again at MacDill on November 5as part of the Airfest.

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