AUSTIN -- When we hear the word "cancer," many might first think of breast, colon or prostate cancer, but the most common is skin cancer. More than two million cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Most of those are highly curable, however the American Cancer Society estimates more than 12,000 Americans will die from it this year. It's one of the reasons Seton is holding a free cancer screening Saturday.
When it's warm and sunny in Austin, you're going to find plenty of people flocking to the hike and bike trails. Jenny Corman is usually one of them.
"I'm a big outdoor enthusiast," she said. "I love running and biking along Town Lake and doing everything outside."
Corman had heard all the health warnings -- too much sun could be harmful, even deadly.
"I was in denial for the first 10 years I lived in Austin," said Corman. "I just loved being outside and not wearing a whole lot of sunscreen."
That all changed this year.
"I started noticing on my right arm there was a mole. To me, it was a freckle that was getting a little larger and kind of oddly shaped and darker than normal," said Corman.
Corman brought those concerns to her dermatologist Jeff Boos. He agreed it looked atypical, so he removed it and had it biopsied.
"When he called me a few days later and said, 'I can't believe this, I did not expect this, but it is precancerous melanoma,' I was shocked," said Corman.
The good news for Corman -- her doctor found her skin cancer early.
"Skin cancer found early has about a 98 percent survival rate," said Boos. "When it's found later, when it spreads into lymph nodes or other organs, the survival rate drops off very quickly."
Just how quickly? The American Cancer Society estimates that survival rate drops to 65 percent for melanoma that has spread regionally, and 15 percent for when it has spread to parts of the body distant from the initial tumor.
It's one of the reasons Seton is holding its 26th annual Free Skin Cancer Screening Saturday, June 8 at University Medical Center Brackenridge. After her recent scare, Corman urges people to use the free screening to get out in front of any potential skin cancers.
"Depending on how many moles people have on their skin, they're exposure to the sun, whether or not they use sunscreen, someone out there could have quite a bit of skin cancer and not even realize it unless they get checked out," said Corman.
Dr. Boos says no biopsies will be taken at the screening, but anyone with moles that doctors on site deem atypical will be directed to where they can get the medical attention they need.