BENNINGTON—September 14, 2015—Cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are more prevalent in this area says a local dermatologist, which is why people should take advantage of free screenings in October.
On Saturday, October 3rd from 8 a.m. - noon, Lixia Ellis, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center will perform free, full-body skin checks.
While open to everyone, the screenings are targeted at people with no insurance or high deductibles, and an appointment is required. To make an appointment, call 802-440-4264 during the following hours:
• 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 22
• 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 23
• 8 a.m. - noon Thursday, September 24
The screenings will be done at the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, Medical Office Building, Suite 116 at 140 Hospital Drive in Bennington by Ellis.
Linda White, medical assistant for Ellis, said, in the past, at least one melanoma is diagnosed at each screening. She said 20 people are diagnosed with melanoma locally each year, and Ellis diagnoses between 25 and 30 non-melanoma skin cancers each week.
According to the American Association of Dermatologists, 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. One melanoma patient in the United States dies every hour.
While melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, if detected and treated early the survival rate is 98 percent said Ellis. If it metastasizes, however, it gets into the lymph nodes and the odds of survival become slim, she said. The two most common types of non-melanoma cancers she diagnoses are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Both are easily treated and cured Ellis said.
Ellis also shared she sees more skin cancer cases here in Bennington than in other places and the numbers are higher than the national average. Her theory is that in Bennington and the northeast in general, people go for many months without much sun exposure. When summer comes they’re eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but since their skin is not used to it and they are not in the habit of protecting themselves, they get sunburns. Burns are what lead to skin cancer, she said.
Ellis encourages people to be mindful of using sunscreen and wearing hats and to avoid tanning beds.
SVMC Dermatology and the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center are departments of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), a full-service community hospital in Bennington. SVMC’s physicians are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVMC is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), an integrated health system serving Bennington and Windham Counties in Vermont, Eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties in New York, and Northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. In addition to the medical center and the Cancer Center, SVHC consists of the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation in Bennington, SVMC Northshire Campus in Manchester, SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus in Wilmington, SVMC Mountain Medical at the base of Mount Snow in West Dover, and the SVHC Foundation. To learn more, visit svhealthcare.org.