Sensible Sun

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight and tanning  beds is unquestionably the major preventable cause of skin cancer, and  is on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of known carcinogens.  One-half of all cancers are skin cancers. UV radiation also weathers  skin, and causes wrinkles and pigment changes.

Sunlight contains heat, visible light, and  ultraviolet (invisible) radiation. Ultraviolet radiation has short-wave  UVB, which tends to Burn the skin, and longer-wave UVA, which Ages the  skin. UVB causes more skin cancer than UVA.

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That Little Freckle Could Be a Time Bomb

It took four cancer scares for me to realize that skin care is more than covering my face when I sunbathe. By Susan T. Lennon

Perched on the edge of the examination table, I was  chattering away to my dermatologist, Dr. Penny Lowenstein, as she  examined my skin last December. Uncharacteristically quiet, she pulled  out a magnifier to peer at my face. “Feel anything strange above your  lip?” she asked. My heart sank. Squeezing my eyes shut, I whispered,  “No.” My palms started to sweat when she said, “Precancerous.” It was  actinic keratosis, and the treatment wasn’t pretty. I had to smear  chemotherapy cream over the dime-size spot for the next 12 days,  destroying the diseased skin, but turning it into a mass of angry red  pustules along the way.

I’ve been through this skin-cancer thing before. A  few years ago I had a basal-cell tumor. Known as “the cancer to get if  you’ve got to have cancer,” it’s slow growing and it rarely spreads.  That was the good news. The bad news was that it was on my forehead.  Vanity took flight when I learned that, untreated, it would worm its way  into my brain. A plastic surgeon dug it out, leaving me with a  perpetually uplifted eyebrow.

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Mohs Micrographic Surgery Provides Highest Cure Rate For Cutaneous Melanoma

SCHAUMBURG, IL — February 27, 1998 — Mohs  micrographic surgery provides the highest cure rate for the treatment of  primary cutaneous melanoma, according to a study recently published in  the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The Mohs procedure is a specialized, precise method  of skin cancer removal in which the tumor is completely excised without  the loss of wide margins of normal skin and without the risk of  inadequate margins that may leave tumor behind. The study shows that  Mohs surgery offers survival and metastatic (spread of cancer) rates  equal to wide surgical excision, yet with significantly narrower margins  and without the risk of local recurrence due to incomplete excision.

“Our purpose was to determine the safety and efficacy  of Mohs micrographic surgery for the treatment of cutaneous melanoma,”  said John Zitelli, M.D., first author of the study and president of the  American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology.

“These results demonstrate that the advantages of the  Mohs procedure seen with basal and squamous cell carcinomas also apply  to the treatment of melanoma,” Zitelli said. “Overall, patients treated  with Mohs surgery experience less recurrence of cancer at five years  after surgery and they are also less likely to have recurring cancer  than patients who have the traditional wide excision.”

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