The National Farm Medicine Center partnered with Dermatology to provide free skin cancer screening Feb. 6, during the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) conference at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn.

Dermatology residents Elliot Franczek and Devor O’Connor screened 76 people from this at-risk, outdoor-working population. Farm Medicine Outreach Specialist Melissa Ploeckelman assembled a screening team that included Terrie Kitchener (Precision Medicine), Brian Finnegan (Office of Research and Sponsored Programs) and Scott Heiberger (Farm Medicine). The screening team said the best part of the day was hearing stories from grateful patients. One man said he participated in the screening at this very conference seven years ago, which led to diagnosis of a rare form of skin cancer that he has successfully managed ever since.

Conference organizers enthusiastically promoted the screening as a service to members, including it in the conference program and mentioning the screening at their morning and noon plenary sessions. The event received philanthropic support from the Auction of Champions and continued a tradition of screening at farmer-focused events that dates to the 1990s. Since 2011, Farm Medicine has facilitated skin cancer screening at 12 events across Wisconsin, examining approximately 2,400 people, finding more than 200 presumed cancers and generating more than 700 referrals for additional examination of suspicious moles or patches of skin.

Each person screened is educated on how to keep their skin safe while working outside. Hard-copy resources are provided, as well as sunscreen samples and other skin care products. Screening conducted at the 2011 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days at Seehafer Acres generated a manuscript: “Skin cancer beliefs, knowledge, and prevention practices: a comparison of farmers and nonfarmers in a midwestern population.”