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Expert Take: Skin Cancer Awareness

Dr. Scott Guenthner Discusses Prevention and Early Detection on the Kendall & Casey Radio Show

Dr. Scott Guenthner, MD, founder of the Dermatology Center of Indiana, was a recent guest on the Kendall & Casey radio show discussing skin cancer awareness and prevention. Skin Cancer Awareness Month occurs annually in May, but Dr. Guenthner’s advice and expertise are important all year. 

As Dr. Guenthner emphasized during his interview on the Kendall and Casey show, skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer, affecting 1 in 5 Americans with nearly 10,000 people diagnosed every day. These rates are only increasing – especially among women and those under 40 – making spreading awareness an important mission for dermatologists and doctors. 

Annual skin checks are the best way to detect and catch skin cancer as early as possible. 

“It’s really important to get checked every year; and having a full-body skin check once a year, looking for skin cancer, identifying it early, and getting it treated early, is very important,” Dr. Guenthner said. 

What Your Dermatologist is Looking For During a Skin Check

Dr. Guenthner explained that when getting a skin check, your dermatologist looks for signs of the two primary types of skin cancer – melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers. 

Non-melanoma skin cancer is primarily basal and squamous cell skin cancer and is highly treatable when detected early. 

Melanoma skin cancer is a far more serious type of skin cancer because it can spread to the lymph nodes and become deadly. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 100,600 cases of melanoma skin cancer will be diagnosed in 2024; however, the 5-year survival rate for individuals whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 99%, making a compelling argument for annual skin checks with your dermatologist.

Signs of non-melanoma skin cancer can include new lesions that are non-healing or an area on the skin that starts to bleed and doesn’t go away after 6-8 weeks. 

Dr. Guenthner explained the specific guidelines for melanoma detection that follow the “ABCDE Rule”, which all pertain to what he dubbed “funny looking moles”:

A – Asymmetry: One side of the mole is not like the other. 

B – Border: There is an irregular or poorly defined border around the mole. 

C – Color: The mole is multiple shades of color (usually brown), but can also be pinkish or even black. 

D – Diameter: A mole diagnosed with Melanoma is typically the size of an eraser head or larger, but it can be smaller. 

E – Evolving: Your mole either looks very different from other moles on your body or has changed in appearance from when you first noticed it. These evolutions can include color, size, or shape. 

Dr. Guenthner emphasized that while he recommends annual skin checks with a dermatologist, individuals can also do skin checks on their own at home to notice or monitor any “funny looking moles”. He suggested having another individual help examine hard-to-see areas like the back.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer and Preventive Care

Dr. Guenthner named three primary risk factors that can increase an individual’s chances of developing skin cancer:

  • Having a family history of skin cancer
  • Having light hair, fair skin, or a lot of moles
  • Tanning bed use

He stressed the importance of being aware of your risk factors so you can take proper precautions and exercise preventive skin care.

Because tanning beds are known to be significant risks, stopping use can go a long way in reducing the chance of developing skin cancer. Dr. Guenthner noted that the Indiana Academy of Dermatology helped pass legislation preventing tanning bed use by individuals under 17 in Indiana. 

“Identifying those tanning bed users and getting them away from it can save their lives and decrease significantly their chance of developing skin cancer,” he said. 

Dr. Guenthner also emphasized that excessive sun exposure is a primary risk for developing skin cancer, but sunscreens and sunblocks can be very impactful at reducing that risk. 

He said the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30; however, he said he recommends higher – at least an SPF 50 – to be reapplied every couple of hours or after swimming. 

He was quick to debunk rumors that SPF causes cancer, stating simply, “that’s incorrect.” He relayed that there has been good data in the marketplace for many years showing that the use of sunscreen and SPF protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

Lean on Your Dermatologist for Skin Care and Peace of Mind

Dr. Guenthner said he was drawn to the field of dermatology because of the ability to make an impact on so many people’s lives. 

“It’s exciting to have a wide variety of patients to see and help with their skin every day,” he said. “We’re trained to take care of patients and their skin, and having an expert dermatologist you seek out every year is very important. You need to have someone who knows what’s going on.”

He stressed that annual skin checks are the best way to ensure detection and treatment for skin cancer – and the earlier the detection, the better. 

“If diagnosed and treated early, patients do very well,” he said. “If melanoma spreads, it can cause a lot of problems. I recommend a full-body scan every year. If you notice something different, or if something doesn’t heal in six to eight weeks, definitely get it checked out. Do not delay. Treatments are very successful when started early.”

To book an appointment at the Dermatology Center of Indiana for a skin check at any of our locations in Bloomington, Greenwood, Plainfield, and Zionsville, visit

Listen to the full radio interview with Dr. Guenthner on the Kendall & Casey Show here: