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VIDEO: Getting to know your skin could save your life

The Kelowna Skin Cancer Screening Clinic has all of the latest tools to detect and monitor and treat skin cancers, but the earliest line of defence is you. Dr. Ben Wiese said we should all take the time to get to know our own skin, and take notice when things change.

At first Dr.'s Ben and Lize Wiese started doing skin cancer screening as a part-time specialty in their family medicine practice. But the demand was too great. "This is what we do full-time," said Ben Wiese. "We just do skin cancer."

It's Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Wiese is focussed in the message he'd like to see get through to people. "I think it's really important to know your skin." That way, he said, you can notice things. "If it's new, if it's changing, make sure that you ask somebody about it, and specifically I think that's when your family doctor is a great resource."

There are other forms of cancer that tend to get more headlines, but skin cancer is actually the most common of them all. One in six of us will be diagnosed with it, but it doesn't need to lead to serious illness. "If you can make an early diagnosis when the skin cancer is still in its infancy stage, I basically surgically remove it," said Wiese, "and you're cured."

For high risk patients or people with recurring cancers, Wiese relies on a piece of equipment called a Fotofinder Mole Mapper.

<who> Photo credit: KelownaNow

"We take pictures of your whole body," he said it identifies every mole, and then the patient returns for follow-ups. "and then you compare these moles and photographs."

<who> Photo credit: KelownaNow

Wiese said his office sees about one new melanoma every day. The message is get to know your skin, take care of your skin and if you see something new or changing, get in and show your doctor.

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