Summer Skin Care/Preventing Skin Cancer

May 13, 2009 10:10:07 AM PDT
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and it's one of the most dangerous. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, which has designated May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin-cancer prevention should begin at an early age, says Chicago dermatologist Dr. Brooke Jackson, Founder of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago and a specialist in skin cancer prevention, with an emphasis on minority skin cancer prevention. She has some facts about skin cancer and some tips on preventing it. EDUCATE YOURSELF:
Types of Skin Cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma are the two major forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.
- Almost all basal cell carcinomas occur on parts of the body excessively exposed to the sun - especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back and in forms of reddish patch, shiny bump, pink growth.
- Squamous cell carcinomas typically appear as a persistent thick, rough, scaly patch that can bleed if bumped. They often look like warts and sometimes appear as open sores with a raised border and a crusted surface over an elevated pebbly base. This form of skin cancer arises in the squamous cells that make up most of the skin's upper layers (epidermis).
1. Former First Lady Laura Bush had a SCC successfully removed from her leg.
- About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

  • Melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, is a serious threat to everyone and every race. A new study recently released is now saying that it can be caused by a genetic variation.
  • - It causes on average 77 percent of skin cancer deaths a year.
    - The legendary Bob Marley died of melanoma. Former football great Troy Aikman and presidential hopeful Senator John McCain have had melanomas removed.
    - Grey's Anatomy connection: Katherine Heigl's character Izzy was just diagnosed with melanoma - she's in her 30's so a good reminder that young women can get this disease.

  • There's no such thing as a healthy base tan! A tan is a result of an injury to the skin.
  • - Exposure to UV (ultra violet rays), whether it's outdoor or in a tanning booth, is still harmful to the skin.
    - Exposure to UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources is carcinogen, increasing risk of all forms of skin cancer
    - A burn is a signal from your body that you have had too much sun; it is a protective mechanism

    Darker skin needs a high SPF too! There is a skin cancer risk factor for everyone under the sun. - Dr. Jackson often sees sun damage done to patients with darker pigmented since people with darker complexions believe they do not need sun protection.
    - While melanoma is more common in Caucasians, it is deadlier in African-Americans and Hispanics because it's more likely to go undetected and often diagnosed in its late stages of the disease.
    - Patients with darker complexion skin also suffer from other conditions such as high blood pressure, lupus that require medications that make the skin more sun sensitive.

  • Primetime for wrinkles. When you are in your prime, you are also most at risk for wrinkles.
    - In fact, what people do in their teens and 20s will affect their skin for decades to come.
    - Skin analysis is a tool used to show sun damage.

  • Skin cancer prefers the left side.
  • - Most skin cancer is more severe on the left side of the face. Why is this? Dr. Jackson says many cases are caused from driving. In fact, a typical person's left arm is often darker as from driving in the sun.

    PREVENTION:

  • Year Round Protection:
  • - For those worried about getting burned by the sun, Dr. Jackson encourages smart sun safety all year round, including wearing an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 or higher on the face, neck and back of hands, keeping the body covered from the sun with hats & sunglasses and staying in the shade.
    - Sun exposure is what causes wrinkles, sunspots, premature aging and skin cancer.

  • Best sun block/sunscreen products: Many people do not know the difference between Sunscreen and Sun block:
  • - Sunscreen is like the screen in your windows, allowing penetration of some rays, about 89% filter. -Sun block is more protective. It often has physical blockers like titanium dioxide and will filter out about 97% of UV rays
    - Best Product for Kids and Why: For children under 6 months, Dr. Jackson recommends consulting a pediatrician. Depending on the age of the child, you need to make application of sun protection "fun."
    - Gentle, non-irritating products like Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream
    - Zinc Oxide- this comes in fun colors and is almost like finger painting.

    SPF- What does it mean?
    - SPF means sun protection factor and measures UVB protection, not UVA.
    - For active people and acne prone or people who sweat heavily, Dr. Jackson recommends alcohol-based or water-based products.
    - Some examples include: Coppertone Sport Block Continuous spray, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Mist, Aveeno Continuous Protection

  • Healthy Glow:
  • - For those seeking a healthy glow, Dr. Jackson suggests spray tans and self-tanners.
    - Jergens Natural Glow, Neutrogena Build a Tan, and Coppertone Gradual Sunless Tan (all around $10 at Walgreens)
    - The best application is after exfoliation. You need to reapply every 3-4 weeks based on turnover of skin cells.
    - As an avid runner, Dr. Jackson encourages people enjoy outdoor activities, just do it safely!

    Vitamin D and sun exposure:
    - Vitamin D is critical to healthy bones and does not need to be produced from UV light to be effective. Vitamin D can be obtained through a balanced diet and vitamin D fortified foods. Maximum production of vitamin D occurs after 2-5 minutes of sun exposure. After this, any additional vitamin D produced by the body is not stored.


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