Free Skin Cancer Clinic Saves Lives

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A group of local doctors held their 20th annual free skin cancer screening clinic at the KU School of Medicine Saturday. It's a day when local dermatologists check hundreds of patients, hoping to save lives.

Henry and Donna Bozarth haven't missed the clinic for nearly a dozen years. It's been a part of their routine. It's a routine they know first hand can save a life.

"It was probably 12 years ago that we first came and discovered his face cancer and had to have a skin peal," said Donna Bozarth, a patient.

They are just a couple of the more than 400 people who lined up in Wichita to get looked over, hoping that freckle they've been worrying about is just a freckle.

"We don't always know and things develop from one time to another and it's just an ease of mind," said Alice Abbott, who came to be checked out.

Area dermatologists have checked more than 15,000 patients over the years and say the need to provide these screenings is growing at a frightening rate.

"Every year, 1 out of 10 people that we examine who come through our doors are found to have skin cancer, so we're finding the skin cancer at an earlier stage and that could potentially save lives," says Christopher Moeller, a Wichita dermatologist.

During this clinic, doctors found 120 people, or 40 percent, with pre-cancerous spots. 39 had definite cancer. Dr. Moeller says for those who have a cancerous spot, 45 percent could get another one in just 5 years. Those numbers have some coming back to get checked, even if they have never had trouble.

"For the last 3 years, I've come in," says Pam Trunecek. "My dad had skin cancer and I think it's important to have it checked out yearly."

It's a habit these doctors say they hope catches on, even to those who think they have perfect skin.

'It's okay to be a little paranoid about your skin," said Moeller.

Dermatologists say it's important to look at your risk factors: Being light haired, fair skinned, spending lots of time in the sun or tanning beds, but also look at your family history of skin cancer as well.


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