Texas 4000 provides free skin cancer screenings


Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Students waited for their numbers to be called so they could have their skin examined for troublesome spots Wednesday at the Texas Union. 

Texas 4000, an organization founded by UT then-students Chris and Mandy Condit in 2004 that works to raise funds for cancer research, provided free skin cancer screenings. Students were called to the back of the room by the doctor, where the screenings were conducted behind a solid barrier to protect privacy.

Valerie Vines, chemical engineering sophomore and community engagement chair for the Texas 4000 2017 team, said accessibility to healthcare is important for college students.

“Something like this is such a simple task, but it’s something that students might not have access to otherwise,” Vines said. “Our goal this year is to not only spread the knowledge, but also spread the means.”

Every year the Texas 4000 program selects students for an 18-month program, with the goal of cultivating the next generation to lead the fight against cancer. The program is known for its 4000+ mile charity bike ride from Texas to Alaska that members take every summer, but the main goal of the program is to fundraise, raise awareness and make cancer prevention efforts available.

Early detection and treatment of any form of skin cancer is essential to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas of the body and to achieve better outcomes, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Judy Chu, exercise science senior and screening recipient, said cancer has affected her family personally. 

“My uncle is a survivor, but my aunt is not,” Chu said. “When it becomes close and personal and you see the way it affects people around you, you want to prevent it.”

One in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. With early detection and treatment, however, most skin cancers are curable.

Vines said Texas 4000 usually partners with University Health Services, but this semester they were a bit understaffed, so they decided to reach out locally for the event.

Dr. Cara Young, family nurse practitioner and assistant professor in the School of Nursing, conducted the screenings Wednesday and said people should get skin cancer screenings annually and continue to check for signs of cancer on their bodies.  

“The earlier you can catch it, the less invasive the treatment is to get rid of it,” Young said. “Taking charge of your own healthcare is part of becoming a responsible adult and part of that is having preventative visits so you can recognize when something is going wrong right off the bat.”