August 23, 2009
Free skin cancer screening: Are you at risk?
La Grange – Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. As summer winds down, be sun smart and sign up for a full-body skin cancer screening at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. Screenings asses your skin cancer risk.
Screenings are available through Adventist Cancer Network from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 29 and Sept. 12 at the hospital’s treatment pavilion, 1325 Memorial Drive, La Grange. Call 630-856-7525 to register.
Skin cancer accounts for more than 50 percent of all cancers, making it the most common form of the disease.
“Most people have some general knowledge about skin cancer, but we all need a reminder every now and then,” said Dr. Erica Rogers, a dermatologist who treats patients at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.
Rogers offers the following reminders to help you stay safe in the sun:
• Use sunscreen even on cloudy days – UV light still comes through.
• UV exposure is greater at high altitudes.
• If you have thinning hair, your scalp is more prone to developing skin cancer.
• People with red or blond hair and fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at especially high risk. Having blue eyes also increases your risk.
• Anyone, regardless of skin color, can develop melanoma, particularly on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under the nails and inside the mouth.
• Use a lip balm with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater.
• Protect your ears with sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat. Many fatal nonmelanoma skin cancers begin on the ears.
• Intense sun exposure in childhood increases your risk of skin cancer later in life.
• Smokers are more likely to get nonmelanoma skin cancer than the general population.
• Use about an ounce, or a palmful, of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater, and apply it 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside so that your skin can absorb the protective agents. Reapply at least every two hours.
• The back is a common site of melanoma in men.
• The lower legs are a common site of melanoma in women. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on the backs of your calves.
• Fabric with a tight weave in dark colors provides the best sun protection.
• Sunscreen does not prevent skin cancer; it simply reduces the amount of UV light exposure. Use it to protect you from normal sun exposure, not to stay out in the sun for an excessively long time.
“Doing just one thing won’t adequately protect you against the extensive sun exposure you get in the summer months,” Rogers said. “Wear the hat, the clothing, the sunglasses and the sunscreen. They’re all essential.”