A few blistering, lobster-red sunburns as a kid. Fair skin, light eyes, sprinkled with a hearty helping of freckles. A family history of melanoma.
When it comes to protecting your skin from cancer, you can’t be too safe. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined, according to the American Center Society, with an estimated 76,690 new annual cases of invasive melanoma—a skin cancer related to UV exposure—diagnosed in the U.S. alone.
Luckily, skin cancer is almost always curable if caught early. But how can you discern between a normal, healthy mole and one that’s cause for concern? In the clip below (we’re re-sharing a favorite one from a couple years back, so please ignore the incorrect screening date at the end), you can hear URMC dermatologist Dr. Marc Brown discuss skin cancer, the importance of practicing “safe sun,” and some tips to help you identify suspicious moles (while wearing your birthday suit!) at home.
Free Skin Screenings May 11
What’s more, if you’re in Rochester, you can be proactive about your skin health this weekend by stopping by Strong Memorial Hospital’s Free Skin Cancer Screening Clinic between 8 a.m. and noon this Saturday, May 11. No registration is required; take the Silver Elevators to the 2nd floor to find the Dermatology Suite. Each screening takes about five to ten minutes and offers a written report of findings. Information on skin cancer, including prevention tips, will be available.
“Sun damage is cumulative, so it includes exposures that can seem just a part of our daily lives such as walking the dog, mowing the lawn or a trip to the store,” Dr. Brown said. “Making a skin cancer screening part of your annual routine will not only make sure that you are identifying a current issue, but it’s a terrific way to uncover potential risk factors for the future.”
For more information about the free detection clinic, contact the Dermatology Department at (585) 275-3871.
Dr. Brown also recommends the following ways to protect your skin:
- Slather on sunscreen. The sun can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Apply sunscreen, with SPF 30 or greater and both UVA and UVB protection, 15 to 20 minutes before you head outdoors. Don’t forget areas such as the back of your neck, top of your ears arms and legs, and scalp if you’ve lost some hair. Reapply every two hours—or sooner after swimming or actively sweating.
- Wear a hat and loose-fitting clothing. A hat with a four-inch brim will shade more than 95 percent of the face, head, ears and neck. Wear light-weight clothes that cover your arms and legs.
- Avoid the most intense sunlight. Schedule outside activities for the early morning or late afternoon to keep out of the most intense sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Don’t tan indoors. Heading on vacation? Getting prepped for swimsuit season? Let’s bust a relentless myth: Getting a base tan from a tanning bed or booth will NOT give protection from sun damage. In fact, it’s been linked to skin cancers.
This annual skin screening event is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, Rochester Dermatologic Society, and URMC’s Department of Dermatology.
Dr. Brown specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin cancers. In addition to performing Mohs surgery on more than 1,200 patients a year, he also runs a multidisciplinary melanoma group practice.
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