TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay attorney Jeff Pearson has fond memories of his childhood spent on the Jersey Shore. He distinctly remembers being sunburned, peeling off the damaged skin and running back onto the beach. As a boy, he didn’t give sun damage a second thought, but as an adult, he had some concerns about a freckle that appeared on his shoulder. His family physician recommended he see a dermatologist, but didn’t make it seem urgent, so Pearson put it off because though the freckle changed shape, it was not raised and did not change color.
In the spring of 2012, Pearson and his daughter attended a Tampa Bay Rays spring training game in Port Charlotte and took advantage of Moffitt’s Mole Patrol®, which was onsite performing free skin cancer screenings.
Pearson asked about the freckle on his shoulder and knew something was wrong when the doctor doing the exam called over other screeners to take a look at his freckle underneath a magnifying glass. The Mole Patrol® physician advised Pearson to see a dermatologist immediately to have the freckle biopsied. That biopsy showed he had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Pearson had it removed and since it was in the early stage, he did not require further treatment.
Moffitt’s Mole Patrol® is a mobile skin cancer screening program made up of a team of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners specializing in dermatology and/or skin cancer, as well as registered nurses and support staff. Since 1996, the Mole Patrol® has screened more than 15,000 people and thousands, like Pearson, required further evaluation by a dermatologist.
Today, Pearson is very cognizant of sun exposure. He still enjoys hiking in the Florida sun, but he wears a hat and sunscreen, which he reapplies consistently. Pearson also gets his skin checked once a year and volunteers at Moffitt’s Spring Swing safety events by sharing his story and encouraging others to get checked.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with nearly 5.5 million Americans being diagnosed each year. Melanoma is the most deadly and dangerous form, but if diagnosed early enough, as with Pearson’s case, the prognosis is usually excellent. The most common warning signs of melanoma are a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing size, shape, or color.
Moffitt’s Mole Patrol® is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Aug. 6 with free skin cancer screening from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Pier 60 Pavilion on Clearwater Beach.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. One of the three largest cancer centers in the United States based on patient volume, the Tampa-based facility is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. With more than 5,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $1.9 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.