Stephane Wilson, a mother of two living in Castle Rock, came to Vanguard Skin Specialists last fall to check a rash on her arms. She also experienced irritated moles, so PA Rachel Frederickson …
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Stephane Wilson, a mother of two living in Castle Rock, came to Vanguard Skin Specialists last fall to check a rash on her arms. She also experienced irritated moles.
PA Rachel Frederickson removed them and performed a total skin exam at a follow-up visit. Frederickson discovered a mole with atypical features on Wilson’s right leg and a biopsy revealed she had melanoma, also redundantly known as malignant melanoma, is a type of skin cancer that develops from the pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes.
Frederickson recommended aggressive treatment, and Wilson’s melanoma was removed by Dr. John James, a surgeon at Mountain View Surgical Associates. Now cancer-free, Wilson continues to visit Vanguard Skin Specialists for total body skin exams to check for any changes.
In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness month, Vanguard Skin Specialists held their annual SPOTme® skin cancer screening on May 12 at their Castle Rock office. Dr. Adam Vaudreuil, dermatologist at Vanguard Skin Specialists, estimated 20-30 people signed up beforehand.
The event provided an opportunity for community members who could not otherwise afford a skin check, didn’t have insurance, or wouldn’t have come in to check on skin spots that seemed abnormal.
“People are coming who have had a spot that they knew about that they were maybe afraid to have looked at or just weren’t in the right place to have it checked, and so it’s great to be able to open our doors for a free screening to have everyone come in and help them get treatment if they need it,” said Frederickson.
Frederickson said one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, so screenings could be beneficial to everyone.
“If you have any family history of skin cancer, certainly we recommend those people get checked,” said Frederickson. “And if you’ve used tanning beds in the past, tanning beds are a huge risk factor or even having five sunburns can double your risk of melanoma.”
In terms of prevention, Vaudreuil recommended protecting from ultraviolet radiation with sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, sunglasses, wide brim hats, and UPF clothing. He also said making decisions like sitting in the shade instead of direct sunlight will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Vaudreuil said that probably everyone should receive skin checks, but skin cancer is most common in people over the age of 50. “That’s the time when we’ve built up that chronic sun exposure over the course of our lives,” said Vaudreuil.
Wilson said she was thankful Vanguard Skin Specialists found her melanoma early, so it could be removed. She also appreciated Frederickson’s communication and ability to work with her to figure out the best approach.
“Rachel was really great going over the specifics of my lesion and what she thought that meant. She helped guide me in what I thought was the right decision,” said Wilson.
Wilson is now a self-proclaimed advocate for skin exams to everyone who will listen. Her friends and family have all been checked in the past few months just to be safe.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that fits the stereotypical guidelines for cancer. Rachel even said that my spot the day she did the skin check didn't necessarily look like melanoma, but it just had some concerning features to it that made her think it wasn't right,” said Wilson. “So even if you know you're doing your own skin checks, and there isn't something that stands out to you, there may be something that your provider sees that we might not pick out.”
Frederickson said, “If detected early, that makes all the difference.”
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