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What you need to know about Skin Cancer

Posted by Dan Narsete on

Skin Cancer

Hope is the physician of each misery.” – Irish Proverb


Cancer. The name alone sounds scary. But with education comes the reduction of fear and the ability to do something about it. In this article, we are going to look at some of the issues, statistics, and solutions for a problem that affects millions of Americans.

How common is it?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it is estimated that this year “323,580 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer and that melanoma rates have doubled from 1982 to 2011.” The AAD also states skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US. They estimate that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

What does a dermatologist say about it?

To alleviate some of the fear around the issue, we contacted Dermatologist Dr. Amy Paul to do a Q&A on the subject:

Q: How does skin cancer happen?
Dr. Paul: “Changes in skin DNA cause an overgrowth of cells that then recruit blood vessels to maintain themselves.”
Q: What should you look out for?
Dr. Paul: “Any new growths of moles, lesions, or spots that are scaly, itching, bleeding, or changes you notice should be checked out immediately.”
Q: What area(s) are most commonly affected?
Dr. Paul: “Lips and the ears commonly get diagnosed with skin cancer.”
Q: What can you do to avoid it?
Dr. Paul: “For starters don’t smoke and apply physical sunscreen for protection, particularly at an early age. Chemical sunscreens absorb heat, so look for sunscreens that have titanium and zinc oxide. These physical sun blocks cause UV rays to bounce off them versus being absorbed by the skin. For people with vitamin D3 deficiencies, take supplements. Also try and wear long sleeve clothes that cover bare skin while in the sun.”
Q: It seems like skin cancer is more frequent versus other forms of cancer. Why is that?
Dr. Paul: “Since your skin is the largest organ in the body and constantly turns over it has more chance of an abnormality versus an organ that in comparison sees very little change. Areas of trauma (such as scars) tend to be more prone to skin cancer for this reason.”
Q: Does diet play a role?  
Dr. Paul: “Limiting inflammation is always a good thing. To do that eat green, leafy vegetables, fruits and fiber while limiting your intake of sugar.
Q: What kind of skin care should people use?
Dr. Paul: “I always recommend physical sunscreens. Beware of any company or product that says it can cure cancer. Always consult a board-certified dermatologist with questions.”

The results

The statistics on skin care are pretty scary but there’s hope. The AAD also states, “the 5-year survival rate for early detection in melanoma is 98%.” The take-home point here is early detection. Keep an eye on your skin and contact a doctor if you have any concerns or notice something unusual. And, of course, make sure to do all the things we talked about like eating right, using physical sunblock, wearing protective clothing (am I starting to sound like your mother?) We only say this because we love you.

To beating cancer,

Team Reflect 


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