Free skin cancer screenings teach Sabans to be sun smart

A free skin cancer screening clinic, organized by Saba Public Health Department’s Dr. Koen Hulshof and intern Carlos Quijada was deemed “an overwhelming success.”, writes The Daily Herald.

The “Iguana be Sun Smart” campaign encouraged as many people as possible to attend, as early detection of skin cancer gives patients a 95 per cent survival rate.

The screenings were done at Fort Bay harbour, the Public Health Department in The Bottom, the Eugenius Johnson Center in Windwardside and at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport in Hell’s Gate.

From left: skin cancer screening participant Ginno Romero, Dermatologist Dr. Johannes Van Duren, intern Carlos Quijada, volunteer health advocate Jackie Daley and Med School student Mehwish Siddiqui.
From left: skin cancer screening participant Ginno Romero, Dermatologist Dr. Johannes Van Duren, intern Carlos Quijada, volunteer health advocate Jackie Daley and Med School student Mehwish Siddiqui.

More than 60 people came to these four locations for a consultation and screening by dermatologist Dr. Johannes Van Duren of St. Maarten Medical Center, who was assisted by fourth semester student Mehwish Siddiqui of Saba University School of Medicine.

Ginno Romero gets the all clear from Dr. Johannes Van Duren, assisted by 4th semester medical student Mehwish Siddiqui of Saba University School of Medicine.
Ginno Romero gets the all clear from Dr. Johannes Van Duren, assisted by 4th semester medical student Mehwish Siddiqui of Saba University School of Medicine.

The screenings detected Basal Cell Carcinoma (BBC), the most frequent occurring form of skin cancer, as well as Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, BBC almost never spreads, or metastasizes, beyond the original tumour site. Only in exceedingly rare cases can it spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. It shouldn’t be taken lightly though as it can be disfiguring if not treated promptly.

SCC is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells which compose most of the skin’s upper layers, the epidermis. SCC is mainly caused by cumulative ultraviolet (UV) exposure over the course of a lifetime.

SCCs may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs.

Often the skin in these areas reveals tell-tale signs of sun damage, including wrinkles, pigment changes, freckles, “age spots,” loss of elasticity, and broken blood vessels.

The patients Dr. Van Duren identified with BCC and SCC as well as patients with some lower risk symptoms were referred for appropriate treatment.

“Fortunately these people took the opportunity to visit the free screening clinic and avoided the potential consequences of their symptoms not being discovered,” said Dr. Hulshof, who was pleased with the success of the screening clinic.

“Hopefully it encourages more people to get checked and take appropriate action to protect themselves from the risks of unnecessary sun damage,” Hulshof said.

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