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Health Education

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Self-Examination for skin cancer.

  1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides arms raised.
  2. Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms and upper underarms and palms.
  3. Look at the back of the legs and feet; space between toes and sole.
  4. Examine back of neck and scalp with a mirror.  Part hair for a closer look.
  5. Check back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
Most of the more than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for about 59,600 cases of skin cancer in 2005 and most (about 7,800) of the 10,600 deaths due to skin cancer each year.

Sun Safety – UV Radiation given off by the sun is extremely harmful

Here is a list of thing to do to lessen the risk of getting skin cancer.

  1. Do not sunbathe.
  2. Avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the peak hours for harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  3. When outdoors, use sunscreens rated 15 SPF of higher.  Apply them liberally, uniformly and frequently.
  4. When exposed to sunlight, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, broad brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses.
  5. Stay away from artificial tanning devices.
  6. Teach your children good sun protection habits at an early age:  The damage that leads to adult skin cancers starts in childhood.
  7. Examine your skin head to toe at least once every three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

 What about Suncreens?
 
When should sunscreen be used?
Every day if you are going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes.
 
The sun’s reflective powers are 17% on sand and 80% on snow.
 
Even on a cloudy day 80% of the sun’s UV rays pass through the clouds.
 
How much sunscreen should be used, and how often should it be applied?
One ounce should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
 
Coat skin liberally.
 
Pay attention to the face, ears, hands and arms.
 
What type of sunscreen should I use?
Should be water resistant, so they are not easily removed by sweating or swimming.
Should have an SPF of 15 or higher.
 
Sunscreen and SPF Numbers?
 
Does SPF 30 have twice as much sun protection as SPF 15?
SPF protection does not actually increase proportionately with a designed SPF number. In higher SPFs such as SPF 30, 97% of sun burning rays re-deflected, while an SPF of 15 indicates 93% deflection and an SPF of 2 equals 50% deflection.
 
Cancer Prevention
Do not sunbathe.
 
Avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the peak hours for harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
 
When outdoors, use sunscreens rated SPF 15 or higher.  Apply them liberally, uniformly and frequently.
 
When exposed to sunlight, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses.
 
Stay away from artificial tanning devices.
 
Teach your children good sun protection habits at an early age.  The damage that leads to adult skin cancers starts in childhood.
 
Examine your skin from head to toe at least once every three months.
 
Have an annual full-body skin exam performed by a dermatologist or primary care physician.
 
A full-body skin exam should be done once every year.
 
Any suspicious lesion should be treated and follow up should be with a dermatologist.
 
Is Melanoma A Serious Disease?
Nearly 75% of all skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
 
Advanced melanoma spreads into internal organs and may result in death. If detected in the early stages, melanoma usually can be treated successfully.
 
What Causes Melanoma?
The most important preventable cause is excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.
 
Melanoma has been linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 18 years of life.
 
Not all melanomas are sun related. Other possible causes include genetic factors and immune system deficiencies.

Mohs Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is one skin cancer treatment available at Harris Dermatology.

This specialized treatment is highly effective because only minimal amounts of tissue are removed. This leaves behind a larger amount of healthy tissue which helps reduce scarring.

It is most often recommended for skin cancers that have recurred or have a high chance of recurrence. It is also indicated for areas like the hands or face that require maximum healthy tissue for cosmetic or functional reasons.  

How does it work?

The Mohs surgeon marks the area to be treated and removes the visible cancer, along with a sliver of additional tissue. While the patient waits, the removed tissue is carefully marked creating a Mohs “map.” A technician prepares the specimen for the surgeon to examine it under a microscope.  

This careful inspection reveals any hidden microscopic “roots” of skin cancers. If remaining cancer is found, the surgeon can use the map to locate and remove hidden cancerous roots from the patient. This part of the procedure is repeated as many times as necessary to remove all parts of the skin cancer, seen and unseen.  

Usually the entire procedure takes fewer than four hours, depending on the hidden extent of the cancer. Most insurance policies cover this method of treatment.

Afterwards, there is minimal discomfort. Generally the area heals naturally with little or no scarring. In rare cases, some scar repair may be desired. Side effects are unusual.

 Mohs surgery should only be performed by a specially trained Mohs surgeon. At Harris Dermatology Mohs surgery is performed on an outpatient basis in our offices, only a local anesthetic is needed. Most patients report minimal discomfort and enjoy the convenience of onsite care from our Mohs surgical specialist.

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