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Season's first NBC 10 Skin Check potentially saves lives

A team of doctors from Brown Dermatology was on hand to do thorough skin cancer screenings at a NBC 10 Skin Check event at Easton's Beach in Newport, Friday, July 14, 2017. (WJAR)

The activity at Easton's Beach in Newport on a dreary cool Friday wasn't so much in the water or on the sand as it was just a few yards away at the first NBC 10 Skin Check of the season.

People were lining up even before screening began.

A team of doctors from Brown Dermatology was on hand to do thorough skin cancer screenings in privacy tents.

"We're looking at their moles," said Dr. Gladys Telang from Brown Dermatology and one of several doctors conducting the screening. “We're looking for pre-skin cancers."

Abby Ellis, 19, of Warwick, was one of those in line.

"I have some spots on my nose. My nose gets really burned, so going in to it I didn't know what was going to happen," said Ellis.

"Just so you know, when you get in the sun your body responds by making more pigments," Telang explained to Ellis. "Freckles are actually an indication of skin injury."

Other than prescribing sunscreen, Ellis had no signs of skin cancer.

"It's very important that people learn how to use sunscreen correctly,” said C. Kelly Smith, with the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at the Rhode Island Department of Health. "The bottom line is, you want to use an SPF of 30 or better, sunscreen product that is broad spectrum. That means it is UVA and UVB protection and also one that is water resistant."

What are doctors looking for? All skin cancers, but in particular, one that can spread -- a melanoma. It's a mole they refer to as the "ugly duckling."

"It's one mole that looks different than the rest and that of course is not normal," said Telang.

During Friday’s two-hour screening, doctors reported finding nine possible skin cancers.

"Majority of all skin cancers are curable, and melanomas have very high cure rates when they're caught early," said Telang.

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