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Skin Cancer

      Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all types of cancers.  It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer every year.

   Fair-skinned people who sunburn easily are at a particularly high risk for developing skin cancer.  Other less important factors include repeated medical and industrial x-ray exposure, scarring from diseases or burns, occupational exposure to compounds such as coal tar and arsenic, and family history.  Follow the links in the menu for more information on the various forms of skin cancer.

Treatment of Skin Cancer

      If a skin biopsy reveals cancer, the dermatologist has an array of medical and surgical procedures as treatment, depending upon the type of cancer, its location, and the needs of the individual.

   Dermatologic surgical treatments include: surgical excision; electrodessication and curettage (ED&C), which involved alternately scraping or burning the tumor in combination with low levels of electricity;  cryosurgery (freezing using liquid nitrogen); and laser surgery.  Mohs micrographic surgery is a special procedure used to remove the whole tumor while sparing as much normal skin as possible.

   Other dermatological treatments include radiation therapy and photodynamic therapy (a chemical is applied to the skin prior to exposure to a light source).  Topical chemotherapy products may also be used.

Early Detection is the Surest Way to a Cure

      Develop a regular routine to inspect your body for any skin changes.  IF a growth, mole, sore, or skin discoloration appears suddenly, or begins to change, see a dermatologist.  It is wise to have an annual skin examination by a dermatologist, especially for adults with significant past sun exposure or a family shistory of skin cancer.

How to Protect Yourself from Ultraviolet Light

      Overexposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight or tanning lamps) is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.  You can have fun in the sun and be smart about it.  Here is how to do it:

  • Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin
  • Wear protective clothing  
  • Seek shade when appropriate
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect sunlight
  • Protect children from sun exposure
  • Get vitamin D safely
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday.