Dr. Scott R. Checketts is a dermatologist with Tanner Clinic, practicing at both the Layton and Kaysville clinics. He joined Tanner Clinic in 1999.
A native of Salt Lake City, Dr. Checketts earned his undergraduate degree in Behavioral and Health Science from the University of Utah. He received his M.D. from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J. The school is now affiliated with Rutgers University.
Dr. Checketts began his residency at the U. of U. Health Sciences Center, where he initially focused on internal medicine. He transferred as a student of dermatopathology to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. His year-long stint there launched what became a continuing interest in research.
He returned to the U. of U. to finish his internal medicine residency. Deciding to focus on skin conditions, he also completed a residency in dermatology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he served as chief resident. The medical center is a training facility for the Ivy League Dartmouth University.
The board-certified physician is married and the father of three daughters. His favorite pastimes are golfing, traveling and reading historical and western fiction (he’s a fan of Louis L’amour).
“No one could ever get rid of the edema on my arms. One day I saw Dr. Checketts and a week later it was gone thanks to special cream he prescribed me. This doctor knows what he is doing for sure.” — Daniel on Facebook, Feb. 3, 2014
“Iliked Dr. Checketts the second he walked in the door to my examination room. He was friendly yet professional, and I was impressed with his expertise. His staff was also friendly and professional. All my questions were answered, and I feel a lot more confident and hopeful about the future.” — SF on Wellness.com, Aug. 15, 2012
“Dr. Checketts has helped us with many skin problems, including mole removal. He removed a basal cell carcinoma off my forehead (he had to cut quite a bit out), and the scar is hardly noticeable. He’s really good!” — PinchingYourPennies.com, June 14, 2011
“I just wanted to thank you all for your willingness to help me out with all of this insurance hassle. I sure appreciate you going the extra mile, Dr. Checketts, to make sure I’m taken care of.” — Samantha, March 4, 2016
Dr. Scott Checketts, a dermatologist at Tanner Clinic Layton, is not a fan of tanning salons.
But then, he’s not a fan of skin cancer.
“We tell people not to go outside unprotected between the hours of 10 and 2,” he said. “But it’s always 12 o’clock high in the tanning bed.”
It’s a warning dermatologists have been sounding for 15 years, but it’s only in the last few years that states have begun to pass laws banning adolescents from tanning salons. Utah passed such a law in 2012.
Young women are especially susceptible to the draws of fashionable dark tans. But, says Dr. Checketts, “If you’re tanning two or three times a week, that’s too much.”
His approach, he says, is not to threaten young women with skin cancer — but rather scare them with wrinkles and age spots.
“Girls are more likely to be active with their sunscreen if they think they can look prettier and younger,” he said. “So, we don’t tell young girls to use sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. We tell them, ‘Use sunscreen so you don’t look old before you’re 30.’”
▸ Bad: Basal cell carcinoma
▸ Worse: Squamous cell carcinoma
▸ Very bad indeed: Melanoma
They all stem from one cause: sun exposure. Not diet. Not weight. Not mom or dad. It’s all sunshine.
The cancer we most often hear about is melanoma — probably, says Dr. Scott Checketts, a dermatologist at Tanner Clinic, “because that’s the one people die from.”
But the other two types — which are responsible for most of the ugly spots that worry us should not be ignored, he said.
Four out of five carcinomas a cancerous growth on the skin turn out to be basal cell carcinomas, said Dr. Checketts. Squamous cell carcinomas take up another few percentage. “And the smallest per- centage is melanoma,” he said.
Sun is the main culprit in all three types of cancer, but melanoma is more related to blistering sunburns in childhood, he said.
Utah, Dr. Checketts notes, has a higher than average rate of melanoma — he sees about a dozen cases a year. Why? Primarily our high elevation, he says, as well as genetics and the fact many Utahns are fair-skinned.
Know the signs of a carcinoma
Unlike melanoma, which doesn’t discriminate in the age of people it inflicts, the non-melanoma carcinomas primarily show up in people over 50. That’s because, said Dr. Checketts, “they’re the ones who’ve had more sun exposure.”
Both types of carcinomas appear similar in their early stages. They generally begin as a small, raised bump that’s pink and shiny.
“It usually starts as a little pimple,” said Dr. Checketts. “Then eventually it can become an ulcer, or it is crusted and scaly and bleeds easily.” But it never heals up. “Patients will say, ‘I’ve got this spot that always bleeds, never heals, it scabs off, heals up, looks like it’s better and then it bleeds again.’”
Squamous cell carcinomas are generally scalier, crustier and flatter. A biopsy, done in-office at Tanner Clinic, is necessarily to tell the difference.
Be wary of sunburns
A carcinoma may look innocent at first, “but it can potentially invade deeper structures,” Dr. Checketts said. “It can go down to muscle and nerve. It can destroy the eyelid rim or go into your nose.”
So, how much sun is too much?
“What we’re telling people these days is don’t get burned,” he said. “Don’t get a blistering sunburn.”
Just an afterthought: Smoking is not a cause of skin cancer, but it is a cause of premature aging. Smoking, says Dr. Checketts, “ages our skin and causes wrinkles” because it actually breaks down — or denatures — the collagen that makes up our skin. “Smoking and sunlight are the two biggest factors in aging,” he says.