From May to September 2023, the Foundation’s Destination Healthy Skin RV will visit 30 communities around the U.S.
The Skin Cancer Foundation will launch its annual mobile education and screening program, Destination Healthy Skin,on Saturday, May 6, in Greenwich, Connecticut. The program is designed to save lives by educating the public about the importance of skin cancer early detection and effective sun protection. Inside the Destination Healthy Skin RV, local volunteer dermatologists provide free full-body skin cancer screenings in private exam rooms. All visitors receive information about skin cancer warning signs and proper sun protection, as well as product samples courtesy of program sponsors.
“This will be the 13th year our RV has been on the road,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation and a dermatologist in private practice in New York. “Over the years, with the help of hundreds of dermatologists, we’ve provided more than 27,000 free skin cancer screenings and identified more than 11,000 suspected skin cancers. Without this intervention, many of those skin cancers may have gone undetected until they began to grow and spread, thus becoming more difficult to treat.”
“This program is a free public health service that allows us to connect with thousands of people in a short period of time,” says Dan Latore, executive director of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “And we may never know the number of people who have seen our early detection messaging on the side of the RV or in the extensive media coverage, but that extra reach is a big part of why this program is so valuable.”
The program kicks off in May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States — it’s estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Because skin cancer is the cancer you can see, anyone can learn to look for anything new, changing or unusual on their skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone practice monthly head-to-toe self-exams and visit a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam. When skin cancers are detected early, they are easier to treat and more likely to be cured. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent.
Prevention is an important part of the DHS message, too. A daily sun protection strategy (seeking shade, covering up with clothing, hats and sunglasses, and applying sunscreen), can significantly reduce skin cancer risk.
The Foundation will document the RV’s journey on its website, SkinCancer.org, Sun & Skin News blog and social media channels so that people can follow along, thus expanding the reach of the program beyond the communities visited. The 2023 Destination Healthy Skin program is made possible by generous support from EltaMD Skin Care; Bristol Myers Squibb; DSM Personal Care; Genentech, A member of the Roche Group; Sun Bum; Merck & Co., Inc.; The Lynne Waxman Foundation; and The Sunshine Foundation.
What to Expect During a Skin Cancer Screening: Staff members give each participant a brief form to fill out, show them to one of the RV’s private exam rooms and instruct them to change into a gown. The dermatologist comes into the room to examine the participant’s skin from head to toe. The physician notes any findings on the form and makes recommendations for next steps, which may include a formal visit to a dermatologist for a biopsy. To make the most of a screening, the Foundation recommends that participants remove nail polish and makeup in advance, let the doctor know if there is a personal or family history of skin cancer and point out any spots that are new, changing or unusual.
The exam takes approximately 10 minutes. It’s best to arrive early, as screenings are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. At events where screenings aren’t available, staff distribute educational materials and product samples.
The Destination Healthy Skin RV will travel approximately 10,000 miles over four and a half months, making its way around the country before heading to Illinois in September for the final event of the season in Rockford. The Foundation will host Destination Healthy Skinevents in approximately 30 cities.A list of events is available at DestinationHealthySkin.org.