Tag Archives: skin cancer

Recipe for skin cancer: 15 sunny steps

1. Believe, “skin cancer can’t happen to me. I won’t be one of the 10,000 Americans diagnosed daily with skin cancer.” If you apply sunscreen, use the lowest number you can find and apply it like a typical American who puts it on so thin that they achieve only a quarter to half the protection listed on the sunscreen bottle.

2. Remove as much clothing, hats, and glasses as possible when in the sun.

3. Marinate in the sun for your vitamin D, even though half of Hawaiian surfers who spent 29 hours/week in the sun year-round were vitamin D deficient

4. Ignore non-healing sores lasting more than a month – especially on the face.

5. If you wear a hat, use a visor or baseball hat, and stay away from hats with a 2” or wider circumferential brim.

6. Win the ‘lobster-man’ or ‘lobster-woman’ award for the best ‘grimace-inducing sunburn’ at your local Yacht Club – as many years running as possible.

7. Choose parents who will give you fair skin, for as a red-headed, fair-skinned Irish priest patient once said, “The Irish are God’s gift to dermatology.”

8. Repeat, “Skin cancer can’t happen to me. I won’t be in the one-third of Americans who will grow one by the age of 70.”

9. Braise in a tanning bed to acquire the mythical ‘base tan’ that requires killing skin cells to alert other skin cells to make a tan – that provides as much protection as SPF 3 (three!) sunscreen – and don’t forget, the tanning bed rays accelerate skin wrinkles compared to the sun. Wrinkles give your face character.

10. Bake exposed skin in the sun as close to the equator – and to mid-day – as possible.

11. Fertilize and cultivate your garden in the middle of the day. Not only does the sun feed your fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but nothing motivates a skin cancer like sunlight!

12. Appreciate those multi-colored, growing “moles” – after all, they’re just ‘beauty marks,’ and they can’t kill anyone (except 7,200 other people annually in America).

13. Avoid websites like www.skincancer. org that could help you prevent skin cancer or get it diagnosed early.

14. Contribute monthly (and don’t forget to fill out your company matching-gift form) to “MakeAmericaTanAgain.Com.”

If you have already had a skin cancer, follow all of these instructions, because doing these things will reduce your number of future cancers.

15. Stew slowly with the thought, “Skin cancer can’t happen to me”, and believe, ”Skin cancer isn’t a big deal, even if I get it, because Hugh Jackman and Melanie Griffith have proven that you can still be attractive with cancer surgery scars on your nose.”

Put your dermatologist on speed-dial; he/she will want to admire the results of your efforts.

TOM MCGOVERN is a Legate who practices Mohs Surgery full-time at Fort Wayne Dermatology Consultants in Fort Wayne, IN. He co-hosts the Doctor, Doctor radio shows/podcasts for the Catholic Medical Association.

Scratching the surface on skin cancers

Skin cancer is the most common form of the disease — and it’s preventable . . .

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all cancers. There are two main categories of skin cancer. Melanomas start in the pigment-making cells. These are rare and very serious skin cancers. I will focus on the second category, which includes the majority of skin cancers — basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas that start in the keratinocytes cells in the skin.

About 3.5 million basal- and squamous-cell cancers are found each year. About 80% of these are basal-cell and about 20% are squamouscell carcinomas. While very common, people rarely die from these two types of cancer. There are only about 3,000 deaths per year.

Risk factors

The risk factors for basal-cell carcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma are similar:

• UV light: The amount of UV exposure depends upon the strength of the light, the length of exposure and whether the skin was covered with clothing and sunscreen.
• Smoking, fair skin, older age, genetics, weakened immune system
• Gender: Males are twice as likely as females to have basal-cell and three times as likely to have squamous cell cancers
• Radiation: There is a higher risk of developing skin cancer in areas that were previously radiated
• Skin damaged by certain diseases or scars from bad burns is more likely to develop skin cancer
• Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection may increase risk of skin cancer in genital areas

Signs and symptoms

As a general rule, any sore, lump, marking or change in the way an area of skin looks may be a sign of skin cancer and should be examined by a physician. Pay attention to a new growth, a spot or bump that is increasing in size or any sore that does not heal within two months.

Look for flat, firm, pale areas or small raised, pink or red shiny areas that may bleed after minor injury. You may see abnormal blood vessels. They are most often found in sun-exposed areas like the head and neck. Also watch for growing lumps often with a rough, scaly or crusted surface. They may also appear as flat, reddish patches that grow slowly.

Treatment

• Surgery: Surgical removal of the cancer is usually the first step. There are many different kinds of surgery. The type depends upon how large the cancer is, where the cancer is located and the exact type of skin cancer. Often minor surgery is curative. For certain types of squamous cell cancers that have a higher risk of spreading, surgery might be followed by radiation or chemotherapy.
• Skin grafting and reconstructive surgery: If a large skin cancer is removed, skin grafting may be necessary.
• Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and kill cancer cells.
• Photodynamic therapy (PDT): A drug is injected either into the skin or into the blood. The drug makes the cancer cells sensitive to light. A light source is focused on the cancer to “turn on” the drug.
• Topical chemotherapy: These drugs are placed directly on the skin surface. • Immune response modifiers: These are drugs which boost the body’s immune system response to the cancer.
• Radiation therapy: This may be used in cases where the tumor is large or in an area where surgery would be difficult. It is also used in older people who may be poor surgical candidates. In some cases it is used as an adjuvant (additional) therapy after surgery. • Chemotherapy: The use of systemic chemotherapy is uncommon.

Prevention

The best way to lower your risk of developing skin cancer is to limit your exposure to strong sunlight. Here are a few suggestions:

• Wear clothing to protect your skin.
• Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Baseball caps do not cover your neck and ears.
• Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more. Apply liberally and often.
• Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.
• Protect children from the sun.

If you have a suspicious skin condition, call our office the numbers below.

Susan Locke, MD, is Healthnetwork Foundation’s Medical Director.

Healthnework is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

Getting the jump on skin cancer

Over the past few decades, Americans have gained a greater awareness of the potential health hazards that come with increased exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The medical community agrees that as the ozone layer depletes, the risk for skin cancer increases.

As an advocate of preventive medicine, Legatus Healthnetwork encourages members to be wary of prolonged exposure to the sun. People exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight are susceptible to skin cancer or melanoma if they fail to defend adequately against UV rays, says Dr. Sewa S. Legha, a medical oncologist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, a Healthnetwork GOLD hospital in Houston.

A nationally recognized skin cancer expert, Legha recommends a thorough skin examination by a physician who can determine whether atypical moles or a family history of skin cancer can lead to more serious problems.

During a skin examination, your doctor will be able to determine if you have too many moles or atypical moles, identifying them with the acronym ABCDE. A is asymmetry, B for border, C for color, D for diameter and E for evolving. If you notice change in a mole that looks or feels different from your others, Legha suggests you see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. The majority of basal cell carcinomas occur on the face. They start as a small, pink spot with a circular or oval shape. As they progress, basal cell carcinomas become raised, develop a crust and have undefined edges.

Squamous cell carcinomas are found primarily on the neck, head, arms and legs. They, too, are pink with raised edges and a hard surface. If detected early enough, the survival rate for skin cancer (and melanoma) is about 99%, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Most forms of skin cancer and melanoma arise in a person’s later years — primarily in their 50s — as a result of cumulative UV exposure from the sun, sunlamps and tanning beds,” Legha notes. “Most of the sun damage takes place during their teen years and into their 20s and 30s. Skin cancers can take 15 – 20 years to develop.”

Legha recommends taking extra precautions with the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. He also says liberal amounts of sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating of 30 or higher, broad brimmed hats and cotton clothing are your best defense against the sun.

Contact us (information below) to schedule an appointment for your skin examination by a dermatologist at one of Legatus Healthnetwork’s GOLD or alliance hospitals.

Ron Hollowell is Healthnetwork’s Director of Marketing.

Healthnetwork is a membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. For information on how this can work for you, call (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. E-mail: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org