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OHSU PDX Skincare Festival aims to celebrate — and protect — your skin

Annual community event will offer free skin cancer exams, samples and services from skin care professionals, and a 5K Walk or Fun Run to benefit melanoma research
Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., performs a skin check.
Skin care professionals such as electrologists can help catch skin cancer early. "Having interested, educated professionals out in the community looking for warning signs of skin cancer — and, in turn, educating their clients — is exactly the type of population health effort needed to make a difference," says Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., founder of the “War on Melanoma™. (OHSU)

As a skin care professional who removes unwanted hair, Barbara Failing, C.P.E., is trained to notice imperfections.

“Electrologists see our clients’ skin repeatedly under abundant light and magnification, and one of the things we look for is skin damage,” Failing explained. “Sun damage, and in some cases freckling, can reveal information about that person’s sun exposure history.”

Understanding a person’s history allows electrologists to have an increased awareness of an individual’s unique skin damage, Failing says. She believes skin care professionals can help clients catch skin cancer early. In fact, one of her clients was diagnosed with a melanoma after Failing discovered a questionable-looking mole.

“We tend to see our clients more frequently than they could get to a dermatologist. I think we can be an extremely helpful partner in helping to detect skin cancer early,” she said.

Dr. Sancy Leachman
Dr. Sancy Leachman, at an OHSU clinic in 2015. (OHSU/Fritz Liedtke)

That kind of groundswell is exactly what Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., had in mind when she founded the “War on Melanoma™” four years ago. Leachman, the director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Melanoma Research Program and chair of the Department of Dermatology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and her team are engaging skin care professionals across Oregon and beyond to join their efforts in educating the public about early skin cancer detection.

“Our goal has always been to involve skin care professionals across a spectrum of specialties —massage therapists, acupuncturists, electrologists, hair stylists, and more,” said Leachman. “We know these people see a lot of skin. Having interested, educated professionals out in the community looking for warning signs of skin cancer — and, in turn, educating their clients — is exactly the type of population health effort needed to make a difference. If we have more people looking for abnormalities in the skin, we have an increased ability to impact those affected by skin cancer.”

Leachman and colleagues are bringing together skin care professionals in a host of fields to talk with the community at their annual event Saturday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The 2018 PDX Skincare Festival at OHSU — presented by the War on Melanoma™ — is designed to educate the community about healthy skin and advance the science of skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment all in one place.

In addition to interacting with skin care experts, PDX Skincare Festival attendees can receive:

  • Free skin cancer screenings: OHSU and community dermatology providers will provide rapid skin cancer exams and share self-prevention tips.
  • Free skincare services: Skincare professionals -- massage therapists, cosmetologists (hair, make-up, nails), tattoo artists, spray tan technicians -- will be on hand to provide free services, samples, tips and information.
  • AIM at Melanoma 5k Walk and Fun Run: Walk/run to raise awareness and funds for skin cancer research.
  • Short TED-style talks: OHSU Knight Cancer Institute physicians and expert guest speakers will discuss skin cancer prevention, detection, treatment, social impacts and more. Audience Q&A sessions will follow each presentation.
  • Entertainment: Musical and dance performances.
  • Interactive skin cancer booths: Raffle prizes for participation.

More information is available at:

“Healthy skin is the most beautiful skin,” Leachman says. “At this event, medical professionals can tell attendees how to improve their overall skin health, regardless of their risk of skin cancer. At the end of the day, we want to help your skin be the healthiest it can be.”

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