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AlvaradoHospitalOffers Tips on Preventing and Treating Skin Cancer

Sunny San Diego offers a multitude of activities for outdoor entertainment. But how much sun is too much? According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer (nonmelanoma and melanoma) is the most common of all cancers, accounting for more that 40% of all diagnosed cancers.

An Alvarado Hospital dermatologist is committed to educating San Diegans about this disease by offering screenings and educational seminars to discuss the latest cancer research and surgical advancements. In addition, clinical and surgical oncologists are working with innovative minimally invasive surgical techniques and studying new clinical drugs that may prevent the spread of skin cancers.

"Although more people seem to be concerned about protecting themselves from skin cancer, the incidence of melanoma continues to rise each year,” said Dr. Robert Ginsberg, a dermatologist at Alvarado Hospital. "Education, early detection and prevention are imperative to avoiding skin cancers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays appears to be the most important environmental factor in developing skin cancer.

Dr. Ginsberg suggests the following are also risk factors for developing skin cancer:

  • Fair complexion
  • Occupational exposures to coal, tar, pitch, arsenic compounds or radium
  • Family history
  • Multiple or atypical moles
  • Severe sunburns as a child

Although certain people are more susceptible to skin cancer, everyone should take proper precautions to protect their skin. The American Cancer Society suggests everyone conduct a monthly self-exam and that patients between the ages of 20 and 40 get a cancer-related check-up, including a skin examination, every 3 years and annually for those over 40.

During self-examination,Dr. Ginsbergsays to pay special attention to areas that are habitually exposed to sunlight, such as your face, neck and hands. Also examine your scalp and the back of your ears and use a mirror to check the areas you can’t easily see.

The most important warning sign for skin cancer is a spot on the skin that is changing in size, shape or color. Other warning signs include: a sore that does not heal, a new growth on the skin, spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin, change in sensation of skin—itchiness, tenderness or pain, or change in the surface of a mole—scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a bump.

"Self-examination requires a minimum amount of time and effort,” said Dr. Ginsberg. "Remain vigilant about these examinations and contact your physician immediately if you detect any of the warning signs.”

To help prevent skin cancer, Dr. Ginsberg offered the following tips:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade: Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest
  • Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as skin much as possible when you are out in the sun
  • Wear sunscreen: Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds