Cary, NC – This May, Cary-based Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation broke the world record for largest skin cancer screening and now want to make this an annual public health event.
At their May 18, 2019 skin cancer screening, 963 people were screened for melanoma, carcinoma and other forms of skin cancer, with some patients traveling as far as four hours to make it here. This blows away the previous Guinness World Record of 780 people.
“The support of our community and word of mouth helped us,” said Tracy Callahan, Polka Dot Mama founder. “Because of that, we were able to really get the word out.”
Callahan said she was not only proud of the record-breaking turn out but also how efficiently they were able to see patients.
“No one waited more than 15 minutes,” Callahan said.
Wait times and access to dermatologists is part of the reason why Polka Dot Mama holds these skin cancer screenings. Callahan said wait times to see a dermatologist can be significant and when it comes to cancer, detection and treatment need to be done as quickly as possible.
“I wanted four months for my first melanoma,” Callahan said.
Helping Public Health
Polka Dot Mama does smaller monthly screenings but on the back of this Guinness-setting event, Callahan said they will replicate this large scale screening.
“It’s becoming an annual event, which is not what I was planning when I started this,” she said. “We now have the schedules and we have multiple providers. There are 32 doctors who want to do it again.”
Additionally, Callahan said they are creating informative videos to show other organizations how to hold a similar event.
The foundation is still logging the results of the May 18 event but in the past, Callahan said 15 to 20 percent of patients who participate identify some form of skin disease.
“If you have a new or changing lesion, spot or mole, you need to get it checked out,” she said.
Polka Dot Mama’s next free skin cancer screening is Monday, June 24, 2019.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation and Stacey Sprenz.