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Medical Monday Skin Cancer

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 3:02 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -The past few days might have had more clouds than sun, but we’ve certainly got plenty of sunny days ahead as we move from spring to summer. Medical professionals are taking advantage of Skin Cancer Awareness Month to remind people to watch for the signs of skin cancer.

Kelsey Nadeau of Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “Really, it’s about prevention.”

Nadeau is talking about the importance of taking precautions early to prevent skin cancer. Nadeau says there are three main types of skin cancer to be watching for.

“Basal Cell Carcinoma being the most common, followed by Squamous Cell Cariconma and then Melanoma. Squamous Cell and Basal Cell are mostly caused by sun damage. Usually Melanoma can be familial and that’s usually caused by the sun as well.”

Nadeau says while many skin cancers are not necessarily life threatening, they are tissue threatening. Though Melanoma can metastasize or go elsewhere in the body.

According to Nadeau, “With Melanoma, our general rule of thumb is you want to look for the “ugly duckling” of your moles. These are usually dark brown, they’re irregular, their borders don’t line up, they can be very large. If you’re looking for precancerous or cancerous changes with something in line with Actinic Keratosis, which is a precancerous lesion that can convert to a Squamous Cell Carcinoma, you are looking for rough lesions on your skin, things that will peel, bleed, they don’t heal right. And the same thing goes for your Basal.”

When looking at preventing skin cancer, Nadeau says the earlier you start in life, the better.

“You start preventing skin damage when you’re young. So, tanning beds are really not a good idea, that causes an extreme amount of skin damage. You want to start thinking about protecting your skin in your 20′s and 30′s with a good SPF and physical barriers, things like hat, long sleeves, not going out between 10 and 2. Because your risk of skin cancer goes up because of accumulation of sun that you’ve gotten. If you have a history of using a tanning bed even once, that increases your skin cancer likelihood, particularly melanoma exponentially vs someone who’s not had any sun tanning.” She says.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an SPF of 30 or above, Nadeau says she personally recommends anything SPF 50 or above. Once skin cancer has been found, they biopsy it then make a treatment plan, which can include removal of the cancerous skin. They then recheck about every 6 months. If you have concerns about your skin, you can reach out to your primary care provider. Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8.

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