BENNINGTON—August 9, 2017—Cases of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, are more prevalent in this area, says a local dermatologist, which is why people should take advantage of a free screening in September.
From 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 16, 2017, Lixia Ellis, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, will perform free full-body skin checks at SVMC Dermatology, 140 Hospital Drive, Suite 205, in Bennington. This event is supported by SVMC Cancer Committee. While open to everyone, the screenings are offered especially for people with no insurance or with high deductibles, and an appointment is required. To make an appointment, call 802-440-4264 on Tuesday August 15 or Thursday, August 17. The screening is first-come, first-served, and the schedule fills quickly.
Linda White, medical assistant for Dr. Ellis, said the same screening event last year diagnosed 10 skin cancers as well as 20 precancers. She said 20 people were diagnosed locally with melanoma in the past year, and Ellis diagnoses, on average, between 25 and 30 new 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 one of the most serious forms 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 decline significantly.”
The two most common types of non-melanoma cancers she diagnoses are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Both are often 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,” she said. “They are not in the habit of protecting themselves, and they get sunburns. Burns can lead to skin cancers.”
She advises patient to be mindful of using sunscreen; wearing hats, protective clothing, and sun glasses; seeking shade; and avoiding tanning beds.
Those who are unable to schedule a screening during the free event are encouraged to request a skin cancer screening at their next primary care appointment. To find a primary care provider, visit svhealthcare.org/primarycare or call 802-447-5007.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), a 99-bed community hospital. SVMC’s services include an emergency department staffed by physicians each of whom is board certified in emergency medicine; the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, which is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and managed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock; and a fully digital imaging department. SVMC also includes 19 primary and specialty care practices with offices in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, West Dover, and Wilmington, VT. The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and is the state’s first Magnet Center for Nursing Excellence, a distinction it has held since 2002. To learn more, visit svhealthcare.org. For news and updates, visit facebook.com/svmedicalcenter.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559