How To Best Prevent and Treat Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 5 million cases treated per year. Basal cell and squamous cell – two of the most common types of skin cancer — are also the most curable and preventable. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is UV (ultraviolet) light exposure. This includes the sun and tanning beds. Despite all we know about the harms of UV light exposure, the number of skin cancer cases continues to grow in the U.S. and worldwide.
“The message before was, ‘Wear your sunscreen,’ but now public health officials are changing that message to include other ways of protecting Americans from skin cancer,” said Dr. David Weinstein, a dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at UCF Health. These protections include allowing use of hats and sunscreen in schools, indoor tanning bed restrictions, and installing more shade structures in public places such as parks and beaches.
As warmer weather is ahead, keep in mind the following tips for your skin health:
1. Have a skin check done once per year by a dermatologist. Self-checks are good too, but having a full-body scan by an expert in spotting the early stages of cancer can be lifesaving.
2. When you think of sun protection, think of clothing and shade as your first line of defense. Still wear sunscreen, but think of that as a secondary defense.
3. If your kids have outdoor time at school, make sure to apply sunscreen at home before they go.
4. Install window film on your car windows. Car manufacturers only partially treat the windshield to block UVA rays. Untreated side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation. As seen in some studies, this has resulted in a marked difference in skin cancer on the left side (driver’s side) of the face versus the right side. When protective film is applied, it blocks close to 100 percent of UV light.
When caught early, 99 percent of skin cancer can be cured. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you should ask your dermatologist about the method they will use to remove the cancer. A fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon can help ensure the greatest aesthetic outcome and reduce the likelihood that additional procedures will be needed. This surgical technique preserves the greatest amount of healthy tissue and can help cure skin cancer when other methods have failed. Learn more about the advantages of Mohs surgery and find fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons at https://www.skincancermohssurgery.org.
UCF Health offers advanced dermatology care for skin cancer, including Mohs surgery, from its Lake Nona office.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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