Skin Cancer Prevention & Early Diagnosis:
Take immediate responsibility in skin cancer diagnosis and prevention by monthly self-exams and examination of the skin of loved ones. This could be potentially lifesaving. Look for any new, changing, or unusual moles, freckle or growth that lasts longer than 3 weeks and if identified call our office and specify that you need an appointment for a changing mole.
Remember the ABCDE’s of Melanoma
A: Asymmetry – one half does not match the other half. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.
B: Borders – irregular, shaggy, ill formed notched or blurred. Benign moles typically have smooth, even borders.
C: Color – not the same throughout the lesion: may have shades of tan, black and brown and may include red, white or blue areas. Benign moles usually have only one shade of brown.
D: Diameter – larger than a pencil eraser.
E: Evolving – changing in size, shape, shades of color, symptoms (itching, tenderness, bleeding).
As a new patient expect a complete skin exam with your first visit and then every year or as indicated by your previous history of skin cancer.
Remember that there is no safe tan. UV exposure and damage contribute not only to skin cancer but also to skin aging, including wrinkling and pigment changes. The risks come from UV radiation in any form, whether artificially from tanning beds or naturally (sun). Indoor tanning is not a safer alternative to direct sun exposure as some patients may assume.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding people not getting enough Vitamin D because they are using sunscreen. The activation of Vitamin D in the skin by UV irradiation is inseparable from the harmful effect leading to skin aging and skin cancer. An extensive literature review published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology in February 2006 revealed that “dietary supplementation of Vitamin D is efficient, efficacious, and safe.”1 For people who are highly protected against the sun, a daily Vitamin D supplement of 200-1000 IU with concurrent dietary calcium, or two 8oz. glasses of fortified milk or orange juice appear sufficient.
Sunless Tanning is a safe alternative for people who desire a tan and is more and more popular. The self-tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) a colorless sugar that interacts with dead surface skin cells staining the skin darker. Do not assume that they are UV protective, since at the most they offer an SPF of 2 to 4 and an SPF of 15 or higher is required for adequate protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation cautions to not be misled when products sound like self-tanning lotions, such as tanning amplifiers, tanning accelerators, tanning enhancers, and tanning promoters since these products may actually end up accentuating the damage to the skin. “Bronzers” are mainly a form of coloring, like tinted make up and also do not offer adequate UV protection.
Beware of “tanning pills” that have been associated with hepatitis and urticaria (hives). Most tanning pills are commercially banned in the United States.
1Wolpowitz, Deon, and Barbara A. Gilchrest. “The Vitamin D Questions: How Much Do You Need and How Should You Get It?.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 54.2 (2006): 301-17. Print.
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