Could you be diagnosed with skin cancer?
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:39:48 GMT —
Two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, and that makes it "the" most common form of cancer.
Of those, 68,000 will have melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Marisa Ellison runs several long distance races a year.
She loves being outdoors, and she loves the sun.
Growing up, her fair skin suffered a lot of sunburns.
"I remember being burned so bad that it was purple. Almost my entire childhood. We just never wore sunscreen when we were kids. And as I got older, obviously I started putting the sun tanning oil on and getting as dark as I possibly could every year," said Ellison.
Ellison said she first noticed a problem on the lower part of her calf back in January. She thought it would go away.
"So I showed a couple of people and they were like, yeah, and I said yeah, I think it's suspicious. So I went in and he did a biopsy and the next day they told me it was basal cell carcinoma and it had to be removed," said Ellison.
Dr. Susan Meidl has been in practice at the Hannibal Clinic since 1996.
She has seen people as young as their early 20s up to late 70s suffering from skin cancer.
Statistics show about one in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.
"We are seeing an increase in incidents of skin cancer, including melanoma, in the United States and that's likely related to sun exposure and also tanning bed use. So it is becoming a more common problem, but you know as long as I've been in practice it's been fairly common," said Meidl
Within a month, swimming pools will be open, golf courses and tennis courts will be packed, and parks will be crowded ... all signs of summer fun and higher risks for skin cancer.
Most adults probably spent their childhood playing outdoors without sunscreen ... and that means sun-damaged skin today.
So I recently visited a Quincy dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.
When you're 16 or 17 years old, getting a job as a lifeguard was like hitting the jackpot.
But 30 years later, sun damaged skin is beginning to show and cause concern for many of us. I went to Blessing Hospital to have my face checked by an ultra violet skin scanner machine, and what I discovered was surprising. All the black freckles indicate sun-damaged skin.
And those spots are NOT visible to the naked eye.
"What worries me the most is that you were a sun worshipper as you were outdoors as a lifeguard. So we know you have sun-damaged skin. You tell me you haven't been the best at using sunscreen. So you need to be real good about using a sunscreen," said Dr. Louis Quintero.
I had Dr. Louis Quintero check my face, neck, arms and ears for anything suspicious.
It's a routine skin cancer screening that can easily identify moles and other spots which could be cancerous. Sure enough, Dr. Quintero found a few spots that needed to be looked at more closely.
"You definitely have some sun-damaged skin. It's not real bad. You've had some pre-cancerous spots, like you mentioned before on your leg. You have a little pre-cancerous spot here that needs attention. You do have some sun damage on your ears and the cartilage of your ears and mostly on your face, your arms look pretty good," according to Quintero.
Something else I learned from my visit to dermatologist, UVB rays from the sun cause the sunburn, while the UVA rays cause skin cancer.
So when you're buying sunscreen make sure the lotion protects you from both.
And if you're outside a lot for work or play, the doctor recommends a wide-brimed hat instead of a ball cap or visor.
The ball cap will protect your forehead and areas around the eyes, but nothing else. While a wide-brimed hat will protect your neck, face and ears.