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Community outreach toolkit: Skin cancer screenings

State Society Resources: Screening Program Toolkit banner

What is this program?

The AAD's SPOT Skin Cancer™ Screening Program is an opportunity for states to promote members as the leading experts in skin cancer detection and treatment. All screening materials are provided complimentary to AAD members as well as support and guidance on planning the event, media, and community education.

Why should states get involved?

This program is an opportunity for your members to give back to communities and promote the profession of dermatology and raise the visibility of your members as the first stop in skin cancer treatment.

What is the cost?

Screening forms, educational sheets, save-the-date, public health posters, and return envelopes for completed screening forms are sent at no charge, along with free and downloadable materials from the AAD website.


How can I/we get involved?

Find an existing event in your state or community and ask if your members to provide free screenings to attendees.

Form a workgroup or committee to champion this project within members’ practice, program, or state society and to spearhead any outreach and publicity efforts.

Is there an overview of the entire program?

Skin Cancer Screening Program guidelines (PDF)

Where do I get materials?

All screening materials are free to AAD members.

What is the timeline for planning?

The timeline to plan is about 6-8 weeks. See page 7 of Skin Cancer Screening Program guidelines for detailed timeline.

What is the difference between a public and private screening?

Private screenings are usually conducted for a specific organization and are only offered to employees. Public screenings are offered to the general community.

Who can assist at the screening?

Medical personnel, including well-trained physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), can screen under the direct supervision of a dermatologist. However, an Academy member MUST serve as the screening director and be in attendance at the screening.

When do most free skin cancer screenings take place?

You can open the conversation with any organization at any time.

Screenings are generally held between May-August. However, screenings can take place at any time during the year. The Academy reminds the public of the importance of year-round sun protection, so hosting a screening in the winter months is appropriate.

Many screenings are held in May to coincide with Skin Cancer Awareness Month and/or Melanoma Monday.

Where are most screenings held?

Anywhere! Screenings can be held at offices, fairs, beaches, hospitals, etc. However, screening locations for exposed skin can only be held where there is enough privacy for comfort. Full body screenings require private rooms.

How many volunteers are needed for the screening?

Invite as many local dermatologists and their staff (residents, NPs, and PAs) as possible. Assign time slots for those individuals who agree to screen. Note the following suggestions:

  • One dermatologist can usually screen between 6-10 patients an hour.

  • Have female and male assistants available if a chaperone is requested.

  • Recruit assistants to help with paperwork and traffic flow.

How should the screening room be set up?

Each exam room should include a table or two chairs, exam gowns, latex gloves or hand sanitizer, and additional lighting, if needed.

How long do I keep my physician copy (“white” copies) of the patient forms?

The patient forms are considered a patient record. Therefore, the forms should be kept by the screening volunteer for six years or per his/her state’s requirements. If the screening is coordinated by a large medical facility, the facility may require that it maintain the records.

Why is it important to send the AAD copy (“pink” copies) of the screening forms and volunteer form (“goldenrod”) back to the AAD?

Both records are extremely important to send back to the Academy using the envelope because the screening form data is tabulated for the program’s annual report and also cumulative report. The data collected is useful in knowing the age ranges of the individuals seeking a skin cancer screening, gender, race, family history of skin cancer, as well as recording any presumptive diagnosis.


How do I/we approach the media?

With any community event, it is important to publicize, engage the media, and create excitement around the event.

Reach out to community leaders to encourage their constituents to attend, especially in underserved and at-risk communities. Engage the media early in the process to encourage stories about skin cancer and provide guidance about where this free screening is to be held. Explore the possibility of a Melanoma Monday proclamation from the mayor or having patient advocates share their stories.

Are there sample materials to help?

How does the AAD promote the screening?

For public screenings, the Academy will post details about the screening on its website and a toll free number, including a contact’s phone number to make an appointment, get directions, or ask questions.

Visitors looking for a free screening in their area can enter their zip code to find a screening within a 50-mile radius.


How can I continue to educate our community?

Providing skin cancer screenings plays an important role in increasing public awareness about skin cancer prevention and detection.

The AAD has ready-made tips and resources about how to educate communities about skin cancer, along with free and downloadable posters and flyers to share in your communities.

Download these free educational resources to help others learn how to prevent and detect skin cancer, including infographics and flyers, educational materials for kids, and videos.

Do you have sample educational materials?

Fact sheets: Reinforce your message by leaving behind the AAD's skin cancer fact sheet and indoor tanning fact sheet.

Patient education: Find everything you need to educate your patients about skin conditions.

Skin cancer prevention and detection: Incorporate these tips into your presentation or hand them out at your event. You can also download the Academy’s free body mole map.

Do you offer presentation tips?

In addition to your screening, consider conducting a community presentation before or during your screening to drive home the message of early detection and prevention.

Establish an objective. What is the goal of the presentation and what messages do you want the audience to remember? The goal of a skin cancer detection and prevention presentation, for example, may be to teach the ABCDEs of melanoma and how to perform a self-examination.

Know your audience. Learn as much as possible about your audience, how much they know about the topic, their level of understanding and attention span. Plan your presentation accordingly.

Don’t write out (and read) your full presentation. Reading a script is boring and prevents the speaker from interacting with the audience. Use a presentation outline instead of a script.

Personalize and humanize. Make your presentation come alive by telling stories about some of your skin cancer patients.

Keep it short. Keep the presentation brief (10-15 minutes) and allow time for questions from your audience.

Use visuals. If possible, use charts or graphs to help make your point. Also considering using the Academy’s skin cancer awareness posters. Contact the Academy’s Member Resource Center at (866) 503-7546 to order your posters.

Leave materials behind. Reinforce your messages by leaving fact sheets and other educational materials with your audience.

Practice. Become familiar with the material and then practice in front of a mirror, video camera, or with a family member or friend who can offer constructive criticism.

Stories/Best practices

Christine Kannler, MD
They fight fires, she fights cancer

Margaret Snyder, MD shares the story of how she got involved screening firefighters with her colleague Christine Kannler, MD.

Learn how to get started

To learn how to get started and access additional resources, contact AAD Community Outreach Programs.