With the school year ending and summer arriving, many of us will be spending
time in the sun either at the beach or by the pool, and still others will
head to a tanning salon to get that bronzed glow. However, excessive exposure
to ultraviolet rays is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than three million
cases diagnosed every year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Most of these cases are basal or squamous cell cancers, but about two
percent are malignant melanoma, a much more deadly form that accounts
for the majority of skin cancer deaths. Of the 76,000 people diagnosed
with malignant melanoma, about 10,000 will die from it each year.
Duane P. Moores, M.D., of Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Hematology
& Oncology, a strategic affiliate of Southeast Georgia Health System
explains that unlike some other cancers, there are no definitive guidelines
for how often most people should be screened for skin cancer. However,
being alert to the signs of skin cancer are very important for early detection
and a more successful outcome. He recommends checking your skin regularly
for any suspicious moles or skin markings using these ABCDEs of skin cancer
A for Asymmetry – One side does not match the other.
B for Border – The edges are ragged, irregular, blurred or notched.
C for Color – The color or shade is not the same throughout.
D for Diameter – The size is greater than 6 millimeters, or the size
of a pencil-eraser head.
E for Evolving – It has changed in size, shape or color.
If you discover moles or markings with any of these characteristics, seek
medical attention from your primary care physician or a dermatologist.
He also recommends that anyone with a family history of malignant melanoma
get a thorough annual skin evaluation from a physician.
While melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, Dr. Moores says there
is good news about treatment. "Many malignant melanomas can be treated
with just surgery if they are detected early. For those that are more
advanced, immunotherapy is the treatment of choice. We are now are able
to identify certain genetic mutations, and if a patient with advanced
skin cancer has one of those mutations, we have targeted therapies that
give the patient a much higher chance of successful treatment."
He also recommends the following sun protection measures:
Stay out of the sun when it is strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Wear protective clothing and a hat, as well wrap-around sunglasses to protect
the eyes and sensitive skin around them.
Fully cover all body areas with sunscreen, preferably with an SPF of 30
or higher, and reapply every two hours when outdoors.
Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
Southeast Georgia Health System will offer free skin checks during its
first Community Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday, June 7, from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m., at the new Brunswick High School, 3885 Altama Avenue,
Brunswick, Ga. The Community Health and Wellness Fair will include a variety
of other health screenings and educational opportunities for the entire
family with most being offered free of charge. For more information about
the Community Health and Wellness Fair, visit sghs.org/healthfair, or