Skin cancer – the words alone are enough to send chills across the entire body. But whether brought on from sunburns, tanning beds or genetics, skin cancer is not only treatable – it is also preventable.
With summers in South Carolina starting early and lingering into October, Trident Dermatology in North Charleston is urging people of all ages to check, safeguard and care for their skin now to keep it healthy and cancer-free well into retirement.
“Approximately 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime,” said Trident dermatologist Dr. Bradley Saylors. “Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of skin cancer can be cured with a single surgery.”
Some common causes of skin cancer include:
- Tanning bed use;
- Genetics – a family history of skin cancer;
- Immunocompromising medical conditions, such as leukemia, lymphoma and HIV;
- Immunosuppressive medications;
- Viruses (HPV).
“For more advanced skin cancers, surgery is often combined with radiation or immunotherapy,” Dr. Saylors said. “Immunotherapies are now improving survival in patients with advanced local cancers and those with distant metastases (when cancer has spread to other organs).”
While early detection gives you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment, Dr. Saylors stressed that prevention is a much better choice than surgery – and suggested these simple preventives:
- Avoid tanning beds;
- Use broad spectrum sunscreen every day;
- Wear long sleeves, hats, gloves and sunglasses;
- Seek shade;
- Tint car windows;
- Learn the ABCDEs of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer;
- Take Nicotinamide – a form of vitamin B3;
- Take Heliocare – a one-a-day dietary supplement that helps the skin protect itself.
“Try to get an annual skin exam by a board-certified dermatologist,” he said. “And check your own skin at home by using mirrors and doing thorough self-exams. A significant percentage of melanomas are detected by the patients themselves. If you notice a new or changing mole, then schedule an appointment.”
Based on reports from the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined. More than 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and more than two of them die every hour. An estimated 197,700 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2022, and the number of melanoma deaths is expected to increase by 6.5% in 2022.
And more people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than those who develop lung cancer because of smoking.
“There are days where 100% of my patients require treatment for skin cancer or surveillance because of a personal history of skin cancer,” Dr. Saylors said.
But he added that unlike other chronic diseases, skin cancer doesn’t have to lead to pain or worse.
“You don’t have to die from it,” he said. “And the more you know how to handle it, the better your chances for a long and healthy life.”
To learn more about skin cancer, visit tridentdermatology.net or call 843-797-3960.
By L. C. Leach III