May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and InterCommunity Cancer Center in Lady Lake, Fla., wants to remind everyone about the importance of protecting their skin from the harsh rays of the sun. Cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun or other sources is the number one cause of skin cancers. That’s why it’s critical to always apply sunscreen when outside enjoying summer activities―even on cloudy days.
The back is the most common location for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Adequately applying sunscreen to your own back is difficult, so see if someone can lend a hand. Unfortunately, 37 percent of people rarely or never apply sunscreen to their back. A broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher should be used on all exposed skin whenever you are outside―including cloudy days.
Preventing Skin Cancer
In addition to applying sunscreen, there are other things you can do to guard against skin cancer, such as:
. Staying out of the sun from 10 am to 4 pm when UV rays are strongest
. Never using tanning beds or sun lamps
. Avoid getting a sunburn
. Wearing protective clothing to cover as much skin as possible. Tightly woven fabrics in dark colors are best
. Protecting the head and eyes by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
Even if you have carefully practiced sun safety all summer, it’s important to continue being vigilant throughout the year by examining your skin head-to-toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions. Have someone else examine hard to see areas, such as your back. Unexplained sores, unusual looking moles, lumps, blemishes or changes in how the skin looks or feels may indicate skin cancer, or be a warning that it might be developing. Lesions that change, itch, bleed or don’t heal are also alarm signals. Self-exams and screenings by a healthcare provider can help identify skin cancers early, when treatment is most effective.
InterCommunity Cancer Center recommends consulting a dermatologist immediately if you notice anything changing, itching or bleeding on your skin.
Factors that may increase risk for melanoma and other skin cancers include: fair skin, a history of one or more sunburns, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation, having more than 100 moles or unusual moles, a family history of melanoma, and a weakened immune system.
Radiation Therapy Effective for Treating Certain Types of Skin Cancer
ICCC offers the Freiburg Flap Procedure for the treatment of skin cancer, an excellent treatment option that is especially effective for cancers on curved areas of the body, like the head, face, neck, foot and ankle. It can wrap around irregular surfaces, conforming to any part of the body while providing exceptional dosing control.
“The Freiburg Flap Procedure allows us to provide patients highly customized treatments that yield significant results in six to eight visits versus the 20 to 25 required for traditional external beam radiation,” explained Dr. David J. Catalano, medical director and radiation oncologist at ICCC. “Patients do very well with the treatments, and the procedure can be used for all different types of skin cancers. It is exciting to offer this treatment that provides excellent results while minimizing disruption to the patient’s normal lifestyle.”
ABOUT INTERCOMMUNITY CANCER CENTER
InterCommunity Cancer Center (ICCC) has more than 30 years of experience providing quality, personalized cancer care in the Lady Lake and Leesburg communities and has treated more than 10,000 patients. Medical Director and Radiation Oncologist Dr. David J. Catalano has expertise in treating breast, lung, prostate, gynecologic, skin and other cancers.
ICCC is an affiliate of The US Oncology Network (“The Network”). This collaboration unites ICCC with more than 1,400 independent physicians dedicated to delivering value-based, integrated care for patients — close to home. Through The Network, these independent doctors come together to form a community of shared expertise and resources dedicated to advancing local cancer care and to delivering better patient outcomes. The US Oncology Network is supported by McKesson Specialty Health, whose coordinated resources and infrastructure allow doctors in The Network to focus on the health of their patients, while McKesson focuses on the health of their practices.
Know the ABCDEs of Melanoma
A = Asymmetry: one half is unlike the other half
B = Border: an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
C = Color: is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue
D = Diameter: Greater than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed but can be smaller
E = Evolving: a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color
For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.