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Chicago Area Dermatologists Respond to Surgeon General "Call to Action" to Prevent Skin Cancer

VERNON HILLS, Ill., July 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of the U.S. Surgeon General's warning about increasing rates of skin cancer – often caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation – dermatologists from throughout the Chicago area will be providing free skin cancer screenings on Saturday, August 2 at North Avenue Beach in Chicago.

The event – SunSmart Chicago 2014 – is co-sponsored by the Chicago Dermatological Society (CDS), the Chicago Park District, the Women's Dermatological Society and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America.

Dermatologists – medical doctors who specialize in diseases of the skin and related conditions – will provide the screenings from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. without charge.  No appointment is needed.

The Surgeon General reported earlier this week that nearly 5 million people in the U.S. are treated for skin cancer every year with an average annual cost of $8.1 billion, adding that it is one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. teens and young adults.

"These free screenings directly target people who are already out in the sun and placing themselves at risk for skin cancer," said Rebecca Tung, MD, division director of Dermatology at Loyola University Medical Center and CDS project chair.  "This event will allow doctors from all over the Chicago area to bring our clinics to the beachside to make it more convenient for sun worshipers to get checked."

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about skin cancer and to provide education about sun-safety practices. Dermatologists will be available for screenings and to speak with individuals and families who want to learn more about skin health.

Dermatologists point out that melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and accounts for more than 63,000 new cases annually.  The Surgeon General stated that rates of melanoma have increased by more than 200 percent from 1973 through 2011.

Dr. Tung noted that early detection is a critical factor in successfully treating skin cancers such as melanoma.  "But prevention is the most important thing," Dr. Tung said.  "Limiting exposure to the sun and tanning beds, and applying sun screen products appropriately when you are outdoors can go a long way toward preserving the health of your skin and avoiding these cancers."

Last year, Illinois dermatologists played an important role in pushing for passage of a new law prohibiting minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning salons.  Enactment of that bill made Illinois the sixth state to put into place regulations to help reduce the risk of skin cancer among teens.

SunSmart 2014 is the third free skin cancer screening organized by the Chicago Dermatological Society to be held at North Avenue Beach in recent years.  Several hundred screenings have been conducted at each event.  If the screening results in a positive finding, the individual is encouraged to make a follow-up appointment with a dermatologist of their choice for a complete exam.

The Chicago Dermatological Society (CDS) is a professional organization dedicated to advancing educational opportunities for dermatologists in the Chicago metropolitan area, as well as promoting public health and understanding of skin diseases and healthy practices.  CDS has approximately 345 physician members who specialize in the practice of dermatology.

SOURCE The Chicago Dermatological Society

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