This is the 900 pound gorilla that we all want to avoid! Let’s review some very simple steps to follow every day to seek healthy skin. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the body. About one in three people will have a run in with it during their lifetime. 96% of all skin cancers can be detected early and cured relatively easily. These are called CARCINOMA and will be reviewed in this blog.
Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas occur almost exclusively on sun exposed skin, usually in fair skin people. Chronic cumulative sun damage adds up since childhood and begins manifesting usually by retirement age, but possibly much earlier (one of my daughters got a skin cancer in her 20’s due to surreptitious tanning bed abuse). Therefore, we must be cautious and on the lookout at all ages. Early detection is essential for successful simple removal of carcinomas.
What do we look for? Changes in existing bumps and spots, as well as new ones forming are important to spot. Especially be mindful if these changes are persistent past two months, and they are progressive. Color changes as well as color mixtures are important. Size matters—anything larger than pencil head eraser diameter (6mm) is suspicious. Asymmetry and border irregularity can point to trouble.
SIMPLE STEPS TO FOLLOW FOR SKIN CANCER PREVENTION AND PROTECTION
1. Choose dark skinned/non Irish heritage parents!
2. Choose to live in a Northern latitude.
3. Choose to do sun avoidance: April 15 — October 15 plan indoor activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. These are the peak times for burning and sun damage.
4. Use copious sun protection, especially when you have to be outdoors during peak times.
5. After the age of 50yo get a yearly FULL BODY SKIN EXAM from a dermatologist. (BEWARE: some dermatologists are more comprehensive than others.)
6. Optimize your Vitamin D3 daily intake. We are all deficient and need to supplement daily. Oral dose of 2000 iu will keep most adults in a cancer preventative state.
REMEMBER THAT EARLY DETECTION AND EARLY REMOVAL OF SKIN CANCERS, HOPEFULLY IN THEIR PRECANCEROUS STAGE, IS THE BEST PRACTICE—IT’S LIKE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
Wishing You a Happy Healthy Summer 2017
Steven A. Smith, MD, Dermatology
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