Mount Auburn Hospital Dermatologist Offers up Skin Cancer Tips for the Summer Sun
The Earlier the Better When Detecting Skin Cancer
By Eileen Deignan M.D., Mount Auburn Hospital
With the temperatures continuing to rise, many are tempted to get some sun and achieve the perfect tan for summer. As tanning as a desired form of beauty has been on the rise over the past 50 years, so has the incidences of skin cancer. The three most common forms of skin cancer are melanoma, squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer.
All three types are caused by an overgrowth of skin cells. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, but it is less common for squamous cell cancer and basal cell skin cancer to spread to other organs. Although biological factors, such as family history, and physical factors, such as complexion and having multiple moles, are risk factors for developing skin cancer, there are additional factors that are especially important to be aware of during the summer. These factors include prolonged sun exposure, living in a high altitude or sunny climate, and even a weakened immune system.
Treatment for melanoma, squamous cell, and basal cell skin cancer is usually the surgical removal of the cancerous spot and surrounding skin. Although melanomas are most commonly treated surgically, therapy depends on several factors including where the cancer is located and how deeply it has penetrated the skin.
Early detection and treatment are the best therapy for skin cancer. You should consult a physician right away if you notice a suspicious mole or spot. If melanoma is detected early, before it has a chance to go deeper below the skin, survival rates are high and recurrence is less common.
Be aware of your skin. Report and new or suspicious marks to your doctor. Wear sunscreen and protect yourself from excessive sun exposure to minimize skin damage and risk of skin cancer.
Eileen M. Deignan, M.D. practices dermatology at Mount Auburn Hospital’s Dermatology Associates of Concord, and currently teaches Harvard medical students and residents at Mount Auburn Hospital. Deignan also serves as the Chair of the Department of Dermatology at Emerson Hospital.