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.
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.
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.”