Be Cautious About Skin Damage As Summer Approaches

Dermatologists offer Skin Exams, Tips for Skin Protection

April 30, 2003

As Rochesterians welcome the bright sunshine and warm temperatures, dermatologists at the University of Rochester Department of Dermatology and the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center issue a reminder to be smart about sun exposure and are offering an opportunity to have their skin checked for sun damage.

"We’re all anxious to enjoy the sunshine and get outdoors, but we have to be careful for ourselves and our children to prevent skin damage which can increase the risk for skin cancers," says Marc D. Brown, M.D., Professor of Dermatology who specializes in skin cancer treatment. "The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can damage our skin and we have to be cognizant of that at all times."

Rochester dermatologists have scheduled a free skin cancer detection screening for 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 10, at Strong Memorial Hospital's Ambulatory Care Facility, second floor. The event is sponsored by the Rochester Dermatologic Society in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, the University of Rochester, and the American Academy of Dermatology. The event is held annually to mark May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Here are some tips for preventing skin cancers:

  • Use sunscreens – The best ones have SPF of 15 or higher that include protection from both UVB and UVA radiation. Generously apply sunscreen at least 15 to 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two to three hours while outdoors.
  • Wear protective clothing -- Hats provide terrific protection -- a four-inch brim will protect more than 95 percent of your head, face and neck.
  • Use common sense -- The sun is most intense from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Get an early or late tee time; work in your garden in the early morning or evening hours.
  • Avoid tanning parlors -- which elevate your risk of developing skin cancer. There is no such thing as "safe" ultraviolet light.
  • Do a skin check -- Examine yourself and loved ones from head to toe once a month for new moles or changes in the size, shape, or color of existing moles and skin lesions. If you notice any change, call you doctor or dermatologist.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with about a million new diagnoses each year. According to current estimates, about half of all people who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin that freckles easily -- often those with red or blond hair and blue or light-colored eyes.

The most common forms of skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) can be treated with surgery with a very high cure rate. However, melanoma can be deadly. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of patients die from this aggressive cancer.

"It’s crucial that we remember to protect our skin when we enjoy the outdoors and be aware of any changing skin lesions," Brown says. Despite all the educational efforts encouraging people to protect themselves from the sun, I seem to be busier than ever treating people with skin cancers."

##

For Media Inquiries:
Leslie White
(585) 273-1119
Email Leslie White