As summer draws to an end, with less time spent on the beach and the water (sigh), you might be ready to toss your sunscreen and to think less about skin protection. Don’t, says Gary Rogers, MD, a dermatologist and director of dermatologic surgery and oncology for the Cutaneous Oncology Group at Beverly Hospital.
Stay careful, and even increase your awareness-both are key to preventing and treating skin cancer, which is on the rise nationwide.
“You don’t need to become a cave dweller to avoid the sun-just be smart about it,” says Dr. Rogers. This fall, consider these steps part of a prescription for skin health:
- Every day, wear sunscreen on your face, ears and hands. Read labels and choose SPF 30 or higher, with both UVA and UVB protection.
- Plan your time outside to avoid the midday sun-in New England in the summer, fall and spring, this is approximately 11 am to 2 pm.
- Find safe ways to get Vitamin D. “You could meet your daily need for Vitamin D with only five minutes outdoors on a cloudy day,” explains Rogers. You can get Vitamin D from food or supplements; check with your health care provider.
Fall is also a good time to “go to school” to learn the signs that a mole or a skin-change should be examined. Ask your primary care provider for information, or go to the websites of the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org/public) or the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org).
Knowing what to look for could save your life, or that of a loved one, because most skin cancers are found by people themselves, or by a spouse, friend or even a hair stylist. Early detection and treatment limits disfigurement, and most important, improves survival rates for squamous cell cancers and melanoma.
Once you know what to look for, what if you do find something? Contact your primary care doctor or dermatologist. Most skin cancers can be treated with an office procedure.
For those cancers that need more specialized treatments, patients should rest assured in knowing that they can receive the most advanced care from Beverly Hospital’s Cutaneous Oncology Group. This team provides diagnosis and treatment in one location, and coordinates the expertise of specialists from dermatology, plastic surgery, medical and surgical oncology, radiology, skilled nursing, and the Lifestyle Management Institute.
The group offers Mohs micrographic surgery to treat skin cancers including melanoma. Performed in Boston teaching hospitals but available on the North Shore only at Beverly Hospital, “It maximally preserves healthy tissue while providing the highest cure rate,” says Dr. Rogers.
The team’s innovations include performing sentinel node biopsy together with Mohs surgery when it is important to find out if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Patients who undergo Mohs surgery can also have cosmetic/reconstructive surgery the same day on the Beverly Hospital campus, if needed. Jagruti Patel, MD,Â one of the plastic and reconstructive surgeons at Beverly Hospital who collaborates with Dr. Rogers, says, “We mesh our schedules in the clinic or the operating room, so that patients don’t have to wait days between procedures, but can focus on healing right away.”
This fall, renew your commitment to staying smart about the sun-a choice that will repay you for many seasons.
To learn more about therapies for skin cancer, call our HealthConnection at 888-253-0800 or visit us online at beverlyhospital.org
85 Herrick Street, Beverly, MAÂ 01915