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5-17-11

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but it can be prevented by avoiding over exposure to harmful ultraviolet light.

More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the U. S.  Skin cancer is primarily caused by over exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun as well as from exposure in tanning salons.  It maybe the result of a very bad sunburn years ago or from an accumulation of sun exposure over many years.  Dr. Lucinda Buescher, associate professor of dermatology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the types of skin cancer.

SOUND BITE:  “There are several kinds of skin cancer, but the three that you’ll hear about most often are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.  And although basal cell carcinoma is by far the most common skin cancer and the most common cancer that there is, the most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma.”

Dr. Buescher, a member of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, says a melanoma is black, brown or a combination of various dark colors.  So it should be removed as soon as possible.  She explains the risk factors for skin cancer.

SOUND BITE:   “The risk factors are kind of related to your skin type, meaning if you have fair skin, light colored eyes, naturally blond or red hair you tend to have less protection, meaning less pigment in your skin and you are more at risk of getting skin cancer if you are exposed to the sun more often or do tanning beds . . .”

Dr. Buescher encourages people to do self examinations for changes in their skin and have skin screenings to detect skin cancer in its early stages.  If you or someone you know has a skin spot that is unusual or might even be cancer, you should see your primary care physician or dermatologist for an evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.