Skin cancer affects over two million people in the United States every year. As summer gets underway, Dr. Henry F. Garazo, a board certified plastic surgeon and Maryland skin cancer surgeon, urges the public to prioritize sun protection and skin cancer self examination in their daily routines.
Take sun protection seriously throughout the year, not just in summer
Repeated sun exposure adds up, increasing the likelihood of developing skin cancer throughout one’s lifetime if left unchecked—according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s risk of developing melanoma can double after having just five sunburns.
“We associate wearing sunscreen with summer activities, but harmful UV rays affect our skin year-round, even on cloudy days,” notes Dr. Garazo. He recommends using broad-spectrum sunscreen daily on exposed skin, and reapplying as needed for continued protection.
He mentions that a board certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or physician-supervised skin care professional can help patients find a good-quality sunscreen that feels light on the skin. “Consistency is key,” says Dr. Garazo, “so it is worthwhile for patients to invest in a sunscreen they love and are willing to use on a daily basis.”
Monthly self-examinations can identify potentially cancerous moles and lesions
In addition to consistent use of sunscreen, Dr. Garazo says that regular, head-to-toe skin self-examinations are a critical step to prevent and treat skin cancer before it develops into a potentially life-threatening situation.
“Early skin cancer detection can save lives,” stresses Dr. Garazo. “The most effective way to catch suspicious lesions before they become a serious health problem is to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your skin, so you can detect changes as soon as possible.” He adds that patients who are aware of changes in their skin are more likely to seek medical help at early signs of cancerous lesions.
Visual resources can help patients identify potential skin cancers
Dr. Garazo has created a visual guide to moles to provide a convenient resource for patients who may be concerned about their own skin cancer risk. The guide contains information about how to detect cancerous moles and images that individuals can compare to any unusual moles on their own body.
“It is so important to pay attention to any markings on the body,” says Dr. Garazo. “Moles that are asymmetrical or change in size, shape, or color can be indicators of skin cancer and should be taken seriously. My goal in creating this visual guide to moles is that more people will become aware of any changes in their skin and seek medical help when needed.”
Solutions for treating skin cancer
For patients who receive a skin cancer diagnosis, Dr. Garazo stresses that treatment options such as Modified Mohs surgery offer a good prognosis for curing early-stage tumors.
This procedure has a high success rate because it involves progressively removing layers of cancerous tissue until only healthy tissue remains. Excised tissue is examined incrementally throughout the procedure to remove all cancerous cells and preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. Reconstruction of the area is either performed during the same appointment or in the days following.
“Modified Mohs surgery is an extremely effective way to treat early stages of skin cancer, particularly Basal Cell and Squamous Cell carcinomas,” says Dr. Garazo, who performs the procedure at his plastic surgery practice in Hagerstown, Maryland. “I have helped many patients avoid more serious treatment by quickly and thoroughly removing cancerous tissue.” – PRNewswire