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Page 8 Healthy Cells Magazine Peoria May 2014

Skin Cancer
Prevention and Early Detection Are Key
By Carl W. Soderstrom, MD, Soderstrom Skin Institute
Melanocytes, which produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin
its normal color, are located in the lower part of your epidermis.
Melanocytes produce more melanin when you're in the sun to
help protect the deeper layers of your skin.
What are the risk factors and causes?
People who have fair skin, especially blondes and red heads,
and blue, green, or gray eyes are more susceptible to skin cancer.
People with skin that burns or freckles instead of tanning, and a
history of bad and/or blistering sunburns are also at higher risk.
The presence of 50 or more moles, or the specific types of moles
atypical nevi or dysplastic nevi are indicators of skin cancer
risk. Lastly, a blood relative with a history of skin cancer can mean
you are also susceptible.
How can skin cancer be prevented?
Avoiding the suns UV light is the best way to prevent skin can-
cer. This can be done by seeking shade, especially between 10
a.m. and 4 p.m.; not letting your skin burn; avoiding tanning and
UV tanning booths; covering up with clothing, wide-brimmed hats,
and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB)
sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher; and, for extended outdoor
activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sun-
screen with an SPF of 30 or higher, reapplying it every two hours
or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
Examining your skin head-to-toe every month, and seeing your der-
matologist every year for a complete skin exam are good ways to ensure
skin cancer has not taken hold. Remember to keep newborns out of the
sun, and use a sunscreen on them after they are 6 months old.
Early detection can save your life.
There is a 98 percent survival rate for people with melanoma
that is detected and treated prior to spreading to the lymph nodes
(American Academy of Dermatology).
Know your ABCDEs and family melanoma history.
If you have noticed any of these danger signs, contact your
"A" is for asymmetry; look for moles or spots where one half is
unlike the other.
"B" is for border: irregular, scalloped, or poorly circumscribed borders.
"C" is for color: if color is varied from one area to another.
"D" is for diameter: larger than 6mm (width of pencil eraser).
"E" is for evolving: any changes, itching, stinging, bleeding, etc.
To diagnose skin cancer, a dermatologist looks at the skin and
carefully examines growths, moles, and dry patches.
If the physician finds something that resembles skin cancer,
then part or all of the suspicious area will be removed. The removed
skin will be sent to a lab. Skin cancer cannot be diagnosed without
a biopsy and a dermatopathology confirmation.
lmost completely preventable and curable, skin cancer is
still overlooked by many as a medical threat. And yet, this
year alone, over 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be
diagnosed and over 9,000 of these cases will be fatal (American
Academy of Dermatology).
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a mutation that occurs in the DNA of skin cells.
These mutations cause the cells to grow out of control and form a
mass of cancer cells.
Skin cancer begins in your skin's top layer the epidermis.
The epidermis is a thin layer that provides a protective cover of
skin cells that your body continually sheds. The epidermis con-
tains three main types of cells. Squamous cells lie just below the
outer surface and function as the skin's inner lining. Basal cells,
which produce new skin cells, sit beneath the squamous cells.
Carl W. Soderstrom, MD
May 2014 Peoria Healthy Cells Magazine Page 9
There are many treatments for skin cancer. A dermatologist
selects treatment after considering the type of skin cancer, where
the skin cancer appears on the body, whether the skin cancer
is aggressive, and the stage of the cancer (how deeply the skin
cancer has grown and whether it has spread).
6 mm
One half unlike the other half
Shades of tan, brown, black, white, red or blue
Changing in any way including stinging, itching,
burning or bleeding
Scalloped or poorly dened borders
Diameter larger than 6 mm (width of pencil eraser)
When surgically treating skin cancer, the goal is to remove all of
the cancer. When the cancer has not spread, this is often possible.
To remove skin cancer, the following surgical treatment may be used:
Excision: To perform this, the dermatologist numbs the skin and
then surgically cuts out the skin cancer and a small amount of
normal-looking skin. This normal-looking skin is called a margin.
There are different types of excision. Most excisions can be per-
formed in a dermatologists office.
Mohs Surgery: A Mohs Surgeon is a dermatologist who has
completed an additional one year procedural fellowship training in
Mohs Surgery an intricate form of skin cancer removal that is up
to 99% effective in the removal of skin cancers while saving the
most healthy surrounding tissue.
This part of the surgery is performed one layer at a time. After
removing a layer of skin, it is prepared so the surgeon can exam-
ine it under a microscope and look for cancer cells. This process
continues until the layers are free from cancer cells.
Soderstrom Skin Institute is proud to be celebrating 40 years
in Central Illinois! For additional information on sun safety and
skin cancer, contact us toll-free at 888-970-7546. To schedule
an appointment with Board-Certified Dermatologist Carl W. Sod-
erstrom, MD, at our Peoria office, please call 309-674-7546. For
more information, visit
Photo courtesy of Soderstrom Skin Institute
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