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May 02, 2011 06:10 PM

Yearly Skin Exam Important

Sioux Falls, SD


If you're not heading out to the lake, you may not think sunscreen is important. But it is.

That's because every time your skin is exposed to UV rays, your risk of developing skin cancer increases. And all it takes is one bad burn. But yearly skin screenings are a must. It's something that saved one KELOLAND woman's life.

Diane Bannwarth loves the outdoors: the fresh air and the sunshine.  But those ultraviolet rays took a toll on her skin.

“Sunburns in childhood catch up with you,” Bannwarth said.

Bannwarth is just one of a growing number of people diagnosed with Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

“The deeper it grows into the skin, the greater the chance that some of those abnormal cells can slip into a little blood vessel or little lymphatic channel and that just acts as a conduit to other areas of the body and from there it can spread rapidly,” Sanford Dermatologist Dr. Clint Brunner said.

Bannwarth was lucky. She caught her Melanoma early last fall. Six months later, her dermatologist found another spot. Thankfully that Melanoma hadn't spread either. Both lesions had to be surgically removed.

“I'm much more aware of my moles. And I have a lot of them so it's hard to keep track but I'm just more aware of the spots that I have,” Bannwarth said.

She's keeping tabs on her moles by getting a yearly skin screening.

Dermatologists like Brunner can spot the lesions quickly, which would be removed and sent off for further testing.

“In general, people should have a skin exam once a year just from head to toe by a qualified individual that's used to interpreting skin lesions,” Brunner said.

Brunner says the lethal form of skin cancer is becoming more common and says Sanford's Dermatology clinic sees patients with Melanoma every single day.

But prevention starts with a good sunscreen, which Bannwarth now wears every single day, and a good thorough screening.

“It's life saving,” Bannwarth said.
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