Skin Cancer Awareness
In this vodcast, local dermatologist Dr. Patrick Feehan discusses the importance of skin cancer awareness and steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Nearly one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. An estimated 8,000 people are expected to die from one of the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, this year. In many cases early detection is the key to successful treatment. The disease, if found early, is almost always preventable, and often treatable.
“You don’t have to hide from the sun to be safe,” says Patrick Feehan, MD, of Dermatology Associates of Lancaster. “We do encourage people to be ‘sun safe’ when they are outside.”
He reminds people to "slip, slap and slop" before they go out in the sun for an extended period of time.
"Slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, and slop on some sunscreen," Dr. Feehan recommends.
Wearing a total block sunscreen is the best way to protect skin from the sun’s rays, and should be “applied liberally and frequently.” Dr. Feehan recommends using sunblock rated at 30 SPF or greater and one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
Wearing a hat and appropriate clothing when outside is also important, and Dr. Feehan suggests that men seek shade whenever possible.
When skin cancer is caught in its early stages, it is treatable; and the earlier it’s caught, the less invasive the treatment.
“We can cure melanoma if we catch it early,” Dr. Feehan says. “Fortunately, we’re talking about skin, the largest, most visible organ of the body.”
Unusual spots and skin changes, such as persistent red patches and areas that itch or bleed, can signal a problem.
“Sometimes the signs are subtle,” Dr. Feehan says. That’s why skin cancer screenings are an invaluable way to catch a problem early. Talk to your doctor about scheduling a skin cancer screening with a dermatologist.
People at higher risk should schedule annual visits with a dermatologist.
That includes people who have:
- more than 100 moles on their body
- an atypical mole identified by a doctor
- a family history of skin cancer
- frequent sunburns, and
- anyone over age 55.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. While it accounts for about 5% of all cases of skin cancer, it is also responsible for about 80% of the deaths.
“The biggest problem we face is men not getting to us fast enough for treatment,” Dr. Feehan says. “If we can get them to pay more attention to their skin—with the help of their wives and families—we can win this battle."