Life in Arizona and increased risk of skin cancer go hand-in-hand
Higher altitudes with picturesque landscapes, a warm climate and sunny days, year-round. It’s what draws many to the Arizona lifestyle that we all enjoy, but also puts our residents at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S today.
“Skin cancer comes in many forms,” said Derek Maetzold, president and CEO of Castle Biosciences, a skin cancer diagnostics company, that calls Phoenix its second home. “The two most common being basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and the most aggressive being melanoma. The reality is that skin cancer, despite being the most common type of cancer, is one of the most preventable. Routine self-checks, annual screening tests by a clinician, protective clothing and sunscreen, lots of sunscreen, are all important steps that go a long way to not only protect your skin but detect cancer early, before it becomes a bigger issue.”
Castle Biosciences is just one of the many companies making waves in the Arizona bioscience community, but their mission is unique – to improve the lives of patients with skin cancer through precision diagnostics. And their innovative genomic tests do just that, by looking at a skin cancer patient’s individual tumor biology to determine how aggressive their cancer really is. When a melanoma diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death, Castle’s tests provide peace of mind for those with a low risk of their cancer spreading.
This year, Castle has teamed up with the Colorado Melanoma Foundation and Epiphany Dermatology to bring The Sun Bus to Arizona and other states across the southwestern U.S. Since its 2021 tour began in early May, local volunteer dermatologists and physician assistants have already screened more than 1,300 visitors for skin cancer aboard the Castle-sponsored mobile clinic.
“We are off to a fantastic start but still have much work to do,” said Neil Box, PhD, director of The Sun Bus and president of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation. “Our hope through this season’s Sun Bus tour is to re-focus the public on skin cancer screenings, as the pandemic has continued to occupy our attention. While most of us have been focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19—and rightly so—it’s easy to forget about other important health screenings, like skin checks. The southwestern states have an exceptionally high UV index in the summer months, putting residents at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. By provided free skin checks and ensuring folks are educated and informed on the measures they can take to prevent skin cancer in the first place, we are doing what we can to improve patient outcomes.”
The Sun Bus has several upcoming stops throughout Arizona in the month of October, so be sure to mark your calendars and stop by for a skin check and to learn more about sun safety and the early prevention and detection of skin cancer.
Derek Maetzold of Castle Biosciences will be giving a keynote address on Oct. 6 during the AZAdvances Life Science Innovation Showcase during Arizona Bioscience Week, Oct. 3-9.