By Nikki Ross-Inda
Baseball fans up and down Florida’s West coast took advantage of Moffitt Cancer Center’s 12th annual Spring Swing® Sun Safety Tour this year, which came to a close in late March.
Spring Swing is a partnership between Moffitt and the Tampa Bay Rays offering free skin cancer screenings at specified Major League Baseball spring training venues throughout Florida. Screeners look for early signs of skin cancer while promoting sun safety, skin cancer awareness and education with help from Moffitt’s Mole Patrol® team.
For more than a decade, Spring Swing has provided more than 4,700 free skin screenings.
“In that time, we’ve found lots of suspicious lesions that required further evaluation,” said Vernon Sondak, MD, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology. “Many turned out to be skin cancers, including some melanomas, and finding these cancers early can be life-saving.”
The 2019 tour began on Feb. 23 in Port Charlotte, where the Tampa Bay Rays faced the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. More than 100 baseball fans took advantage of the free screening program and 89 suspicious findings required follow-up appointments with dermatologists.
The Mole Patrol then headed down Interstate-75 to JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers for the Boston Red Sox game against the Baltimore Orioles. Of the 60 fans who received a screening, 75 suspected cancerous lesions were detected, meaning some fans had multiple suspicious moles.
The final stop of this year’s Spring Swing tour landed in Dunedin, with the Toronto Blue Jays hosting the Canadian Junior Team at Dunedin Stadium. Dunedin City Commissioner Heather Gracy participated in a screening and encouraged other fans to take charge of their health by issuing a sun safety proclamation from the field. In all, 80 people received screenings at the final stop.
“Sun safety and skin health awareness is increasingly important, especially for those here in Florida,” said Tori Mitchell, event and project coordinator with Moffitt’s Cutaneous Oncology team. “Events like Spring Swing provide an important and vital opportunity to bring Moffitt’s expertise to the communities around us and save some lives in the process.”