KINGS PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with summer right around the corner, it's a good reminder to check -- and protect -- your skin, especially for those who are at high risk for melanomas.
For Scott Rosato, preparedness is innate. He is Suffolk County corrections officer and also a lover of the great outdoors, but it's his vigilance that helps keep him healthy.
He's had close to 20 surgeries now for melanoma, and the battle scars are a reminder of how proactive he's been, with his doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering on Long Island.
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There, a special machine called a Vectra lets the doctors know precisely how much they need to keep track of, which can be surprising, even to Rosato.
"(The machine) tells us (Rosato) has 700 moles," dermatologist Dr. Ashfaq Marghoob said.
There are only eight such Vectra machines in the U.S., and Sloan-Kettering has four of them.
The Vectra creates a 3-D image of the entire surface of a person's skin, allowing dermatologists to track any changes that could indicate early stages of melanoma, and for patients like Rosato, it is a game changer.
He was only 29 years old when he found his first melanoma in 1997, at the beach when he took off his shirt. It was his mom who saved him, and she noticed the mole because she had just had melanoma herself.
The lesson is to stay alert.
"If at least once a month, or every other month, you're looking at your skin, become familiar with what is normal on your skin," Dr. Marghoob said.
Rosato credits that vigilance, 25 years of it, has saved his life.
"It's not a joke," he said. "It's not just something you're going to scrape off your skin or get surgery. It's pretty bad."
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