Free Skin Cancer Screening Draws Hundreds on Sunny San Francisco Day

The blazing Saturday sun may have been an appropriate reminder for people to think about getting screened for skin cancer.

The turnout at the free screening, held this year at the Castro Mission Health Center on June 1, made it one of the most successful – nearly 250 people were examined, up from 170 the previous year, according to Patrick Unemori, MD, a resident with the UCSF Department of Dermatology, which hosted the event.

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Of those who were screened, UCSF dermatologists made 85 case referrals, including 22 possible cases of melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – and 23 possible cases of non-melanoma skin cancer, Unemori said.

People who came to the skin cancer screening also were given an opportunity to learn more about proper sun protection through presentations by medical students, and they were sent home with samples of sunscreen and other skin protectants.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than 3 million skin cancers diagnosed annually in some 2 million people in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, but many cases can be easily treated if detected early.

Anyone can develop skin cancer, regardless of skin color or general health. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years old.

The UCSF Department of Dermatology has hosted a free skin cancer screening each year at locations around San Francisco, with volunteer participation from UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. This year, nearly 40 faculty, residents, staff and medical students gave their time to make the screening a success.

Photos by Louise Chu