Morton Plant Mease Invites Community to Have Free Skin Cancer Screenings on Melanoma Monday

April 16, 2015

Register now for May 4 Community Health Event at Morton Plant Hospital

CLEARWATER, Fla., (April 16, 2015) - Morton Plant Mease health experts will offer free skin cancer screenings to the community at the 19th annual Morton Plant Mease Melanoma Monday event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2015, at Morton Plant Hospital.

Melanoma Monday is a nationwide annual campaign to encourage early detection and raise awareness of skin cancers. Morton Plant Mease physicians and health care practitioners participate to help educate the community. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting about five million people a year, according to the Surgeon General. 

“It is important for Floridians to get screened regularly since we have year-round exposure to UV rays,” says Amy Ross, MD, a Morton Plant Mease dermatologist. “Melanoma is the most life-threatening form of skin cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes.”

Skin cancer is more common in people who: spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned; have light-colored skin, hair, and eyes, or skin that freckles and burns easily; have a family member with skin cancer; or are over age 50. 

The health event will be at Morton Plant Hospital’s Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Pavilion, Meeting Rooms A&B, 455 Pinellas Street, Clearwater, Florida. Space is limited; registration is required. For an appointment, call (727) 953-6877. Please wear loose fitting clothing to the screening. The examination is limited to exposed skin only.

Early detection and prevention are important. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health recommends that people perform monthly self exams. They say the best time to check your skin is after a shower or bath. Other tips include:

  • Know the pattern of your moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any new moles or changes in existing moles that include size, shape, color, or other changes such as bleeding or itching. 
  • Self-exam is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to help look at areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs. 
  • Look at the front and back of your body, then raise your arms to check your sides. Examine all areas including your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and your back. Friends and family members can also help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas, such as your scalp and back.
  • Any suspicious areas or unusual moles should be seen by your primary doctor or by a dermatologist. 

The ABCDE rule is another guide to follow for signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pea), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Reducing the risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Stay out of direct ultraviolet (UV) rays sun exposure and seek shade while outdoors.
  • Use sunscreen 15 SPF or higher with both UVA and UVB protection, and re-apply often when outdoors, at least every two hours.
  • Wear hats with a 2-3 inch brim around and sunglasses with a 99% UV absorption label to minimize UV light to skin around eyes and face. 
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

About Morton Plant Mease
Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals – 
Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

About BayCare Health System
BayCare Health System is a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area. Composed of a network of 12 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home health care, BayCare provides expert medical care throughout a patient’s lifetime. With more than 280 access points conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay, BayCare connects patients to a complete range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for any health care need. 

BayCare’s family of hospitals are: Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, Morton Plant, Morton Plant North Bay, St. Anthony’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, St. Joseph’s Women’s, South Florida Baptist, and Winter Haven. For more information, visit BayCare on the Web at