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Interview with Aileen Galley, administrative director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute at Mount Nittany Medical Center, on Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection

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Medical Minute—4:00

Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health. The topic this week is skin cancer. Our guest: Aileen Galley, administrative director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Thanks for joining us today.

Aileen Galley: Thanks for having me.

Dave Kurten: May is recognized as Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. To help our listeners prevent skin cancer, can you suggest safe sun habits to practice?

Aileen Galley: You know, it seems funny to talk about safe sun habits as we just experienced a late April snow, but, in fact, skin cancer prevention is something that we need to think about year round. We encourage people, first and foremost, to avoid tanning booths. There is no such thing as a safe tan, despite the claims that you hear. For all of us, though, it’s important to wear sunscreen year round, and, for those who work and play outside, it’s recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology that you seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at it’s strongest point, or cover up with protective clothing, including wearing a broad brimmed hat and, of course, sunglasses. It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out, and then being able to reapply it for every two hours that you’re out in the sun – unless you’re sweating excessively or swimming – and then you should do it more frequently.

Dave Kurten: What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

Aileen Galley: It can be scary to think about cancer in any form, and we understand that, but skin cancer happens to be the most common form. Anyone of any skin color can develop skin cancer, but it’s the fair-skinned and light-haired folks that are most at risk. It is important for people to know their own bodies and pay attention to any new growths on your skin. It might be a mole that has uneven borders or a new one that’s developed or something that’s been around for a while but seems to have changed over time. The American Cancer Society tells us that moles that have shades of black or brown in them or are larger than the size of a pencil eraser are things that we should pay attention to. People are also asked to examine their skin for any non-healing sores like a shiny, pearly appearing bump. And if any of these are found, it’s important to either get checked out by your primary care physician or your dermatologist.

Dave Kurten: Mount Nittany has partnered with area dermatologists to sponsor free skin cancer screenings on May 12. What is a skin cancer screening?

Aileen Galley: For those folks who do have a concern about any new or existing changes to their skin, it’s important to have a full body exam. A lesion can occur anywhere, it’s not just in the places that we’re exposed to the sun. And unfortunately nobody is flexible enough to visualize their entire body on their own, so at a screening, a doctor does a head-to-toe body check looking for any irregularities. And, the hope is that if anything is discovered, it’s being caught at its earliest point, and we have the best chance of a cure. You know we talked earlier on about folks with fair complexions being at risk, but other risk factors are folks who have had severe sun burns as a child, someone who has freckles, someone who has had intense exposure to the sun and folks who are current or previous users of tanning beds. Probably most significant of all of these, though, is someone who has a family history of melanoma, which is the most severe and serious form of skin cancer.

Dave Kurten: Can anyone receive a free skin cancer screening?

Aileen Galley: Absolutely. Our skin cancer screening’s free and open to the public, but we’d like it to be especially for those without health insurance who might not otherwise be able to see a doctor. 

Dave Kurten: How can community members make an appointment for a free skin cancer screening at this event?

Aileen Galley: Well, we’re going to be having our skin cancer screening on Saturday, May 12, at Mount Nittany Medical Center. And we ask that you call to make an appointment. The number to make the appointment is 814.234.6106, and we’d like to especially thank our volunteer dermatologists. We absolutely could not do this event without them. Dr. Klepeiss and Dr. Rosamilia are going to be with us from Geisinger Medical Group, and Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Shupp will be volunteering as well from Penn State Hershey Medical Group. If folks want to find more information about preventing skin cancer, and really cancer in any form, I’m encouraging them to visit our website at www.mountnittany.org.

Dave Kurten: Aileen Galley, administrative director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute at Mount Nittany Medical Center, has been our guest on this edition of the Medical Minute. Thank you for your time.

Aileen Galley: Thank you so much.

Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health.

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