The American Cancer Society will offer free skin cancer screening clinics in Salt Lake City in May.

Utah's capital city, along with its Western neighbors of Phoenix, Denver and Sacramento, have a higher incidence of skin cancer than the national average."Because of the high elevation, Utah's incidence of skin cancer is high," said Dr. Leonard Swinyer, a dermatologist. "The fact that we don't have as much atmosphere filtering out the more drastic ultraviolent wave lengths is one contributor to the problem. Utah has a large fair-complexioned population and a lot of sunny days in the year, which is conducive of our going out in the sun."

More than 600,000 people will develop skin cancer this year. Skin cancer will claim 8,500 lives, 6,500 from malignant melanoma.

To reduce risk, Utahns should avoid excessive exposure to the sun. Occupational exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds and radium are also among the risk factors. Sun-tanning booths also put customers at risk, but certain medications can heighten reaction to ultraviolet radiation.

Swinyer said people should carefully monitor their own moles or other pigmented growths. Among skin cancer's warning signs in such growth spots are scaliness, oozing, bleeding, a change in appearance, the spread of pigmentation beyond its border, itchiness, tenderness or pain.

Screening schedule:

May 8 - 9 a.m. to noon, LDS Church Canyon View Ward, 1000 Suncrest Dr., Ogden.

May 9 - 9 a.m. to noon, 1992 South 200 East, Salt Lake City. This clinic is planned for those over the age of 60.

May 15 - 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., LDS Hospital Auditorium, 8th Avenue and C Street, Salt Lake City.

May 16 - 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., LDS Church Holladay Stake Center, 4568 S. Holladay Blvd.

May 22 - 9 a.m. to noon, 1992 South 200 East, Salt Lake City. This clinic is planned for those over the age of 60.

July 11 - 10 a.m. to noon, Heritage Center, 10 East 6150 South, Murray.

To arrange an appointments for the seniors clinics, call 264-2635.