This is a common question I hear from our young tanned patients. You will find people of all ages in our reception room. There will be kids with traumatic injuries from dog bites or burns to Octogenarians with Skin Cancer. Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would use this month’s blog post to reinforce the importance of sunscreen.
The number one cause of Skin Cancer is Sun Damage. To prevent skin cancer all you need to do is avoid sun damage. To do this, you can either come out only after sundown or you can protect your skin with hats, clothing, and sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology has a great website on how to spot skin cancer and prevention tips.
We sell the EltaMD brand of sunscreen in the office. These products have either Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide and are true broad spectrum UV blockers. If you click the link, you can enter a sweepstakes drawing to win Prizes during May. Remember, all it takes is one bad sunburn to lead to skin cancer later in life. For many of you, the best reason to avoid UV rays is the premature aging caused by sun damage.
Tanning booths are even worse than the sun’s rays when it comes to damaging your skin. The concentrated UV energy from tanning booths may give you a healthy glow now, but it damages the collagen and elastin of your skin. The World Health Organization has actually declared indoor tanning devices to be cancer-causing agents. Not only can they cause Melanoma (a 59% increase in incidence), but they also increase the risk of a benign mole becoming a Melanoma.
As far as treatment of skin cancers, I usually perform a procedure called Excision with Frozen Section Margin Control. In this procedure, I excise the Cancer in the operating room, the Pathologist then freezes the tissue and looks at it under the microscope. If there is still cancer at the edges, I will excise more tissue until we are all the way around the Cancer. After the Cancer has been removed, I then reconstruct the defect created. Sometimes I can close the area in a straight line, other times I may rotate a flap of tissue, or perform a skin graft. Either way, it is much better to prevent skin cancer in the first place by practicing Sun Avoidance.
Next time you are in the office, ask Hilda or Linda for samples of the sunscreen and see how you like it.