Skin cancer prevention involves education, protection, and detection. Our Orange County surgeons recommend incorporating all three facets to skin cancer prevention at all times, especially in the summer, or during seasons and days where excessive sun damage may be possible.
Here are some basic areas of education you should keep yourself armed with. Teach your children about the information below, and apply it to all living things in your household, including elderly family members and even certain pets.
Know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer
Have you heard of the A, B, C, D, and Es of Melanoma? Knowing these can help you identify potential risk during your monthly at-home skin examination.
A - Asymmetry - If a lesion, spot, or mole is not symmetrical, it could be a sign of Melanoma. Non cancerous lesions are typically symmetrical.
B - Borders - Borders on a lesion, spot, or mole should be regular and smooth. Uneven or irregular borders can mean skin cancer.
C - Color / Changes in Color - Color should be relatively consistent in a lesion, spot, or mole. Several colors or an uneven distribution of colors can also be a sign of skin cancer.
D - Diameter - Anything greater than 6 mm and anything that seems to increase in size should be monitored and brought to the attention of your dermatologist.
E - Evolution - Lesions, spots, and moles should not typically change rapidly in size or color. If you notice new spots, moles, or a change in a spot or mole, keep an eye on it. Document changes and contact your dermatologist for further instruction.
*Note: Did you know Aktinic Keratosis (AKs) are precursors to skin cancer? These typically have a red appearance and can be easily overlooked. Additionally, squamous cell carcinoma can have the appearance of a small, red bump that recurs or refuses to heal.
Understand the importance of regular at home skin inspections and frequent professional skin examinations
Skin cancer can be found in the comfort of your own home with a little extra care and attention to detail. It is extremely important to perform monthly at home skin exams on yourself and your loved ones. Catching skin cancer in its earliest phases can mean saving your life, or at the very least saving a lot of skin. Visit the dermatologist annually for a skin check or as recommended according to your skin health and past history with skin cancer.
Know your sunscreen
Ask your physician for a recommendation on sunscreen. There are several on the market. If you are in a hurry or on the road, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, however, there are some very incredible broad-spectrum, hypoallergenic sunscreens available, most of which can be selected or catered to your lifestyle. Our physicians currently recommend a variety of sunscreens from EltaMD, Epionce, and a few other manufacturers for this very purpose. If you need assistance, contact our office for help and more information for the perfect choice for your needs.
Know your skin type and lifestyle risk factors
Are you fair, of medium, or darker skin tone? Has anyone in your family had skin cancer? Do you smoke? Are you in the sun often? Do you work in the sun or near an excessive amount of air pollution? Are you athletic? A surfer, a runner, a swimmer, a person who loves to fish? There are specific ways you can prevent skin cancer that will work with your individual lifestyle. Speak with your medical esthetician and dermatologist for more advice on how you can best protect your skin.
Do your research
Skin cancer prevention information is less effective if you have already been diagnosed. Stay on top of current or new health trends and have open and frequent communication with your skin care professional about anything you have remaining questions on. Ultimately, your health is your responsibility. Being on top of information can be enormously helpful.
Contact your physician
If you are ever in doubt about the condition or health of your skin, contact SCARS Center or your existing skin cancer specialist right away. They may be able to answer your question over the phone, or they may recommend that you come in for an appointment.
In general, you should wear sunscreen every day. You should also wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, gloves, and hats during periods of prolonged sun exposure. Special care should be taken with the skin of children and teenagers, as damage to young skin is a much higher risk factor for future cancer concerns.
Seek Shade - during peak hours of the day, typically 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Apply Sunscreen - at least every 2 hours. Be sure to get your head, ears, behind the knees, and feet.
Cover Up - Wear sunscreen and use protective clothing like hats, long sleeve shirts, and gloves. Consider using a parasol or other mechanisms to create your own shade.
Reapply Sunscreen - This is very important and frequently forgotten. Reapply every 2 hours for maximum coverage.
Skin Checks - Make sure to have regular contact with your dermatologist and medical esthetician. Having professional eyes on your skin is the best way to ensure maximum skin health for increased protection.
Remove and Treat Damaged Skin
It is important to remove pre-cancerous, sun-damaged skin cells before they can form a cancer. Our team will often recommend that you aggressively treat pre-cancerous cells. This can be through exfoliation or chemical peels administered by one of our physicians, or medical esthetician. We may also recommend a more in-depth treatment for the removal of damaged cells, such as PDT - Photodynamic Therapy.
If you need surgical treatment to remove your damaged skin cells, our Newport Beach facility offers a state of the art Joint Commission accredited surgery center, and Mohs micrographic laboratory on premises. At Skin Cancer and Reconstructive Surgery Center, you can be examined by our board certified surgeons, receive treatment from a dermatologist, and have any necessary reconstructive surgery or simple closure at one, convenient, and safe facility.
Perform your monthly skin checks at home and visit your dermatologist at least annually, unless advised otherwise. If you have any questions, you can call our team of board certified skin cancer specialists at 949.719.1800.