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4838 E.Baseline Road
Suite 103
Mesa, AZ 85206
Tel: 480.926.8000

Skin Cancer

Hello, Dr.Shreder here with Full Circle Health. Fall break has recently wrapped up here in Arizona.  So, now that the kids have gone back to school and fall break vacations are wrapping up, it’s time to start focusing on some much needed “you” time again. Since it is still very sunny and hot here in the desert, I felt it was important to follow up last week’s post on sunscreen with a post on Skin Cancer.

Skin Cancer… It’s the most common form of cancer here in the U.S., affecting nearly 2,000,000 of us every year. Tens of thousands of these cases will turn into deadly forms of melanoma. If you’re not currently taking steps to protect yourself against skin cancer, then today is absolutely the time to start doing so!

Those with fair skin are more at risk of falling victim to skin cancer, as well as those who have a weakened or suppressed immune system or those who have a lot of moles. You’re also at an increased risk if your family history shows that relatives have also had skin related problems.

If we continue to subject ourselves to harsh UV radiation from the sun, then we become even more vulnerable to skin cancer as we age. As long as you take protective measures, none of this should be too much of a concern as skin cancer remains one of the most preventable and treatable diseases.

Start With The Basics…

The majority of the time, skin cancer can be avoided by simply protecting yourself from UV radiation transmitted by the sun (and of course, tanning machines).

Keeping yourself nicely tucked away in the shade (particularly between the hours of 10am – 4pm), wearing protective clothing that covers your arms and legs as well as a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses, and using sunscreen, are the basic ways to protect yourself from skin cancer when spending time outdoors.

 

These Are Tried & Tested Ways of Preventing Skin Cancer…Yet so many people disregard this advice completely OR they do it wrong.

Experts have long thought that reapplying sunscreen every 2-3 hours is the best way to protect yourself, but more recent studies have shown that reapplying sunscreen 20 minutes after first application may be more beneficial.

skin cancer prevention 300x235 Skin CancerPersonally, I recommend applying sunscreen 30 minutes BEFORE you step outside into the sun and then reapplying 15 – 30 minutes after initial exposure.

You should also continue to apply your sunscreen every 1.5 – 2 hours and/or immediately after getting out of the water.

Finally, make sure you use enough sunscreen. Most people apply too little leaving themselves exposed and vulnerable to those harsh UV rays. It’s always better to wear too much than too little; don’t take any chances!

 

Your Diet Can Also Offer You Some Protection…Yes! What you eat and drink can also protect you from skin cancer!

Coffee is believed to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Studies have shown the antioxidants and caffeine in coffee can help protect against Basel Cell Carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer. So by all means carry on with your Starbucks habit!

Fruits and vegetables have always been an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. New research has shown these to be even more important when it comes to your skin, as they will boost antioxidant levels protecting against sunburn, wrinkles and skin cancers!

I’d also advise you to eat plenty of fish as it contains Omega-3 fatty acids which are good for you in many ways, but in this case, I’m recommending them based on 

studies that have shown they can reduce your risk of Melanoma by 50%.

 

Here’s a List of 7 Foods to Add to Your Diet to Help Increase your Body’s Inner Defenses:

  • wild salmon 300x200 Skin CancerCitrus Fruits
  • Green Tea
  • Carrots
  • Red Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts

 

That’s Everything On Prevention… Let’s Look at Detection…

In some cases, your DNA plays more of a role in getting skin cancer than anything else. If you have a fair complexion, numerous moles and/or a family history of skin cancer, it’s possible you may still get skin cancer without much sun exposure at all.  To be on the safe side, it’s imperative to get an annual skin check.

As skin cancer is, in most cases, easily treated, looking for and detecting any signs of it early on is the best case scenario. If you should find something suspicious, don’t panic, but you should quickly seek the advice of a medical professional.

 

Here’s What to Be On the Lookout for:

  • A skin growth that increases in size and is of a pearly, waxy, translucent, brown or black color (may even be multi-colored)
  • A mole, birthmark, beauty mark or any brown spot that changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture, is irregular in shape or bigger than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, peel, scab or bleed and doesn’t heal within 3 weeks. Feels like a “thorn or sticker” in the skin.

These are all clear warning signs that should be taken seriously. If you find anything, call us and we’ll schedule you promptly.

As I’ve already said, skin cancer is very rarely fatal…but the sooner it’s checked out, the better the outcome.

Treatment options are usually simple:

The most common treatments are:

  • Removal via freezing – (something we do in office that can require multiple treatments).
  • Investigation via shave biopsy (our doctors can test a suspicious spot to see what it is)
  • Removal via skin biopsy (our doctors can safely remove the cancer cells via excision)
  • Destruction by cauterization (done in our office)
  • Laser therapy to vaporize growths – (something we can do in the office)
  • Chemical chemotherapy with drugs (the medication will kill the abnormal cells)
  • Photo Dynamic Therapy (Also known as PDT, it’s a combination of laser surgery and medication performed by a specialist)
  • Mohs surgery (a dermatologist removes the growths layer by layer until they’re non-existent)
  • Radiation therapy (as recommended by your oncologist only when surgery isn’t an option)

 

As An Incentive To Take Care of Your Skin…

The Full Circle Health Team are reminding you to get your yearly skin cancer check, it is typically covered by insurance and may just save your life, or at least give you peace of mind about that mole you have had your eye on for a while.

PS: To learn more about sunscreen and skin cancer protection make sure to check out our July newsletter or come in for a free sunscreen consultation with our aesthetician Jean.

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