Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Loyola Dermatologists to Offer Free Screenings for Skin Cancer

Head-to-toe examinations will mark the beginning of Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month in May

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- At a free health fair that offered screenings for skin cancer, Joan Rojek decided on a whim to have some odd-looking blemishes on her arm examined by a dermatologist.

That whim just might have saved Rojek's life.

"She said the blemishes I was worried about were nothing of concern, but she did identify another growth that I didn’t even know I had," said Rojek, a nurse at Loyola University Health System. "She had me in her office the next day for a biopsy and two weeks later the results came back as a melanoma."

Without warning Rojek found herself among the more than 60,000 Americans who each year develop new melanomas, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, said Dr. Sheetal Mehta, a Loyola dermatologist who discovered, diagnosed and treated Rojek's melanoma.

"Melanoma can be a devastating disease. However, early detection and treatment can help ensure the disease does not progress to a life-threatening situation," said Mehta, who is also an assistant professor, division of dermatology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood. "Early melanoma detection is the key for optimal outcome. Regular screenings are imperative tools for early detection."

In conjunction with Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month in May, Mehta and other Loyola University Health System dermatologists will commemorate Melanoma Monday by offering free skin cancer screenings that will take place on Monday, May 10. An appointment is required. To schedule, call (888) LUHS-888.

The screenings, which may involve a full-body exam or focus on areas of concern, will take place from:

* 1-4 p.m. at the Loyola Center for Health at Darien, 7511 Lemont Road, Darien.

* 2-5 p.m. at the Loyola Center for Health at Wheaton, 140 E. Loop Road, Wheaton.

* 3-5 p.m. in Clinic B at the Cardinal Bernardin Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood.

In 2010, more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer were diagnosed in the United States, according to the most recent estimates from the American Cancer Society. Of those, 68,720 were melanomas, which resulted in 8,650 deaths. Melanoma is the most serious form since it has a strong tendency to metastasize, or spread, to other locations in the body.

"Melanoma risk factors include tanning bed exposure, history of skin cancers and blistering sun burns at a young age," said Mehta who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. "Anyone who notices an abnormal patch on their skin or a change in the appearance of a mole should make an appointment with a dermatologist, who is specially trained in the detection of all types of skin cancers."

When detected in its earliest stages and treated properly, melanomas are highly curable, such as in the case of Rojek, who was successfully treated about a year and a half ago by Mehta. For an early, thin malignant melanoma that is only on the surface of the skin, the five-year survival rate is 96 percent. About 81 percent of melanomas are diagnosed at a local stage

"Patients who may have unusual moles or lesions anywhere on their body should be checked by a professional. These types of growths have potential to be a melanoma, but can be easily diagnosed." Mehta said. "People should take every opportunity to get screened. This way if something of risk is identified, there is a much better chance of a good prognosis."

For more information on melanoma, visit http://loyolamedicine.org/Medical_Services/Cancer/What_We_Do/skin_cancer.cfm

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.