Danger in the sun: Local dermatologists talk skin care in the summer

Posted: May. 27, 2016 12:01 am

Prevention is the key to avoiding skin cancer treatment, according to the staff at Riverside Dermatology in Hannibal.

The best type of sunscreen, said Dermatologist Linda Cooke, M.D., is a powdered mineral sunscreen, which does not degrade. It needs to protect from UVA and UVB rays and have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

Dermatologist Kathleen Haycraft, DCNP, advises wearing a wide-brim hat and sunglasses as well as using sunscreen. She recommends sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide, because "sun rays hit those and bounce off, and they are water resistant" However, all sunscreens need to be re-applied during the day, she said. "Nothing is waterproof."

Being screened for skin cancer by a dermatologist is also very important, said Cooke, "If people go through skin cancer screening and are not being screened by anyone in dermatology, that’s the biggest problem we run into. Someone can be screened and have (undiscovered) skin cancers."

Haycraft noted that no referrals are needed to make an appointment at Riverside Dermatology by calling 573-248-3900, adding, "We have expanded staff for immediate access," so patients may be treated very quickly.

"All of types of skin cancer have better survival rates in those who find their skin cancers early," Haycraft said. "This reinforces the need for full skin exams with a derm lite."

Tanning beds should never be used, Haycraft said, reporting 100 percent of melanoma cases from ages 20 to 30 (excluding pediatric melanoma) are due to tanning beds. "There is no safe tanning bed."


Most treated with

single excision

Early treatment for any skin cancer can eliminate the need for major treatment, Haycraft said. Basal cell and squamous cell when discovered early, "Almost all require a single excision."

The same is true of a melanoma, she said, which may need "just a surgical excision if caught early. If advanced, it can require chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy."

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), in which Cook is a member, has reported that when a melanoma is found and treated early, the cure rate is nearly 100 percent.

The AAD lists the following ABCDEs of melanoma detection. A stands for asymmetry; one-half does not look like the other half. B stands for border: irregular, scalloped or poorly-defined border. C stands for color: varied from one spot to another, shades of tan and brown, black, sometimes white, red or blue. D stands for diameter; melanomas are most often larger than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed but can be smaller. E stands for evolving: a mole or skin growth that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

If a spot or mole has any of these characteristics, an appointment with a dermatologist is recommended.

Even if no skin cancers have been diagnosed, Haycraft advises the public to have annual checkups, because the earlier a cancer is found, the less treatment is needed.


Risk factors listed

The AAD listed the following skin cancer risk factors:

Light-colored skin, skin that burns or freckles rather than tans, blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, more than 50 moles, irregularly-shaped or dark moles, use of tanning beds, history of blistering sunburns, received organ transplant, had skin cancer or blood relative has had skin cancer, weakened immune system, received long-term X-ray therapy, exposure to cancer-causing compounds such as arsenic or coal, and skin that has been badly burned by accident or by the sun.

The following details about skin cancer are from the website

Like many cancers, skin cancers start as precancerous lesions. These precancerous lesions are changes in skin that are not cancer, but could become cancer over time. Medical professionals often refer to these changes as dysplasia.


Watch for these

changes in skin

Some specific dysplastic changes that occur in skin are as follows:

Actinic keratosis is an area of red or brown, scaly, rough skin, which can develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

A nevus is a mole, and abnormal moles are called dysplastic nevi. These can potentially develop into melanoma over time.

Moles are simply growths on the skin that rarely develop into cancer. Most people have 10 to 30 moles on their body that can be identified as flat or raised, smooth on the surface, round or oval in shape, pink, tan, brown or skin-colored, and no larger than a quarter-inch across. If a mole on your body looks different from the others, ask your health care provider to take a look at it.

Dysplastic nevi, or abnormal moles, are not cancer, but they can become cancer. People sometimes have as many as 100 or more dysplastic nevi, which are usually irregular in shape, with notched or fading borders. Some may be flat or raised, and the surface may be smooth or rough ("pebbly"). They are often large, at a quarter-inch across or larger, and are typically of mixed color, including pink, red, tan, and brown.


 This article originally appeared in the May 2016 Better Living Missouri section published by the Courier-Post.


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