Be prepared for the upcoming Florida Summer!

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– Knowledge is Power!

by Christopher J. Balamucki, MD

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than 5.4 million cases diagnosed in over 3.3 million people yearly. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans can develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In fact, there are more cases of skin cancer each year than all of the cases of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer. There have been more skin cancers diagnosed over the past 30 years than all other cancer combined! As you may expect, it represents a tremendous cost in our healthcare system with an estimated $8.1 billion spent yearly treating skin cancers in the United States.

Skin cancer comes in a variety of different types. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas, both arising from the epidermis (outermost layer of skin), are the two most common types of skin cancer with more than 4 million and 1 million cases diagnosed annually in the United States, respectively. Melanoma, arising from pigment-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes), is much less common with an estimated 87,110 new cases that will be diagnosed in the United States in 2017. Although melanoma accounts for less than 1% of all skin cancer, it can be very aggressive, accounting for the majority of skin cancer deaths (approximately 9,730 people yearly). Merkel cell carcinoma is another very rare, deadly form of skin cancer — 40 times rarer than melanoma but it can kill 1 in 3 people with the diagnosis.

Why are there so many skin cancers? Two words — sun exposure!

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) light (electromagnetic radiation), of which UV-A and UV-B rays are particularly damaging to your skin and cause a lot of DNA damage over time. Skin cancer typically occurs on areas of the body with high sun exposure, such as the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. With that said, you should always attempt to cover up or use sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher in sun-exposed areas of your body when outside — not just when you are at the beach! The sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and then re-applied every 2 hours thereafter or after certain activities, such as swimming. The sun is not the only risk factor though — tanning significantly increases your UV exposure and skin cancer risk.

Check for Skin Cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends routine monthly head-to-toe self-examinations to help identify new or changing skin lesions. Make sure you get checked for skin cancer behind your ears, on top of your head and even on the underside of your foot and between your toes, as it can pop up anywhere. A dermatologist can help with your first examination and can follow you closely if you are deemed to be at high risk for developing a skin cancer.

Effective Treatment

There are a lot of different treatment options available for skin cancer, most of which are offered by your dermatologist and are curative in the vast majority of cases. Especially for skin cancers in the head and neck region, your dermatologist may refer you to a radiation oncologist to discuss your radiotherapy treatment options. This type of treatment may potentially improve the cosmetic and functional outcome in certain cases while maintaining a very high cure rate.

Reducing your risk of Skin Cancer

Ultraviolet (UV) rays – from the sun and other sources like tanning beds – are the primary cause of skin cancer. Too much exposure can also cause sunburn, eye damage and premature wrinkles. However, shielding your skin with clothing, broad-spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher, and staying in the shade can help lower your risk.

– American Cancer Society

If you are playing golf, fishing, going to a ball game or visiting a beach, be smart and wear sunscreen. Put it on at least 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the tops of your
ears and nose. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and
large sunglasses will decrease your risk. You can
even buy surf shirts with an SPF built in that actually
block 98% of the sun’s rays.

We want you to lead a ….Good Life!

Please contact The Cancer Center at
North Florida Regional Healthcare,
(352) 333–5840, with questions..

Reference: www.skincancer.org

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