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Free Skin Cancer Screenings For State Lifeguards

A Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center Dermatologist examines a California State Lifeguard during a skin cancer screening at the San Elijo State Beach Lifeguard Headquarters in Cardiff, San Diego, CA on August 9, 2021.
Roland Lizarondo
A Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center Dermatologist examines a California State Lifeguard during a skin cancer screening at the San Elijo State Beach Lifeguard Headquarters in Cardiff, San Diego, CA on August 9, 2021.

On Monday, the Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center hosted a free skin cancer screening clinic for all state lifeguards at the San Elijo State Beach Lifeguard Headquarters.

Dr. Hugh Greenway is the director of dermatological surgery for the center and a Scripps Clinic physician said doctors are starting to see the indirect effect of COVID-19 on people’s skin.

Free Skin Cancer Screenings For State Lifeguards
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“Unfortunately with COVID, we’re actually seeing more advanced cases because people hadn’t been to their doctors or their dermatologist or been to a skin screening,” Greenway said.

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For over 20 years, Scripps Health has offered free screenings to lifeguards and other first responders as part of its community benefit program.

“The lifeguards are the people who basically take care of us when we go to the beach and if we have any problems or any issues they’re there for us. They’re outdoors all the time,” Greenway said. “They're at high risk for skin cancer, so we come down and screen them.”

Dr. Greenway described the screening process: After the lifeguard had filled out a form from the American Academy of Dermatology, they stepped into one of the screening rooms.

“A board-certified dermatologist and nurse will actually screen them. We’ll look you completely all over, we’ll look at certain parts that you would like and then if we find anything,” Greenway said. “We’ll mark it on the form and then we’ll give you a copy of the form and then you take that form to your dermatologist or your family doctor.”

Free Skin Cancer Screenings For State Lifeguards

Sergeant Erik Burgan is a state park supervisor lifeguard for the California State Parks and said he wants to keep his lifeguards safe.

“They’re running in and out of the water constantly. They’re constantly in the sun. They’re at high risk for skin cancer,” Burgan said. “Having the doctors here today, the hope is that we can prevent skin cancer from ever happening.”

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Besides wearing at least an SPF 30 sunscreen, Dr. Greenway has a few other skin protecting tips.

“Wear a hat. Wear sunglasses, sun protective clothing, be careful in the mid part of the day because the sun is closest to you. We’re all going to get sun, so don’t get sunburned. That’s what activates and turns moles on and may make them change,” Greenway said.