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Tactics in battling skin cancer

By guest columnist Dr. Stephanie Duguid

Movie Review: “Abigail”

As part of the Mississippi Health Ambassador Initiative, Brooke Edwards, DCNP at Brookhaven Skin and Med Spa, has shed light on the critical importance of skin health.


Skin cancer remains a significant health concern affecting millions of Americans. Understanding its prevalence, types, risk factors, and preventive measures are keys to skin health and reducing its impact.


Prevalence and impact.  Skin cancer affects a large portion of the population, with approximately 1 in 5 Americans developing it by the age of 70. Tragically, more than two persons die as a result of skin cancer every hour in the United States, highlighting the urgent need for awareness and prevention efforts. Shockingly, the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles after experiencing five or more sunburns.


Types of skin cancer.  There are several types of skin cancer, each with its own characteristics and implications. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form, followed by squamous, melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.  While basal and squamous cell carcinomas are more common and have higher survival rates, melanoma poses a significant threat due to its potential to spread rapidly to other body parts.


Mississippi statistics.  In Mississippi, the impact of skin cancer is evidenced with approximately 500 new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year. Tragically, an average of 70 Mississippi residents succumb to melanoma annually. These statistics underscore the importance of heightened awareness and access to

preventive resources in the state.


Risk factors.  Excessive sun exposure, indoor tanning, the presence of atypical moles, genetic predisposition and environmental factors contribute to risk.  Individuals with fair skin, light eyes, and a history of sunburn are particularly vulnerable.  Understanding these risk factors empowers individuals to make informed choices about sun protection and lifestyle habits.


Preventive Measures.  Preventing skin cancer begins with sun protection and adopting sun-safe behaviors.  These include wearing protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves;  seeking shade during peak sun hours and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Regular self-exams and annual dermatological visits are essential for early detection and prompt treatment of suspicious lesions.


Indoor tanning risks.  Indoor tanning significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma, particularly among young individuals. Research indicates a 75% increased risk of melanoma for those who engage in indoor tanning before the age of 35.  Shockingly, studies have found that 97% of young women diagnosed with melanoma had used tanning beds, highlighting the urgency of addressing indoor tanning practices.


Professional guidance.  The Skin Cancer Foundation offers valuable resources such as “Skin Cancer 101,” which provides essential prevention and early detection information. Visit Consulting with dermatologists provides individuals with personalized guidance and care. Dermatologists can conduct thorough skin examinations, educate patients about skin cancer prevention and recommend

appropriate treatment options based on individual needs.


Early detection and treatment.  Early detection is critical to successful treatment outcomes in skin cancer. Timely intervention can prevent the spread of the disease and improve prognosis. Treatment approaches vary depending on the type, severity, and individual circumstances of the patient. Promptly addressing suspicious lesions and seeking professional medical advice are critical steps in managing skin cancer effectively.


By prioritizing sun protection, recognizing risk factors, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer and protect their skin health for years. Together, we can raise awareness, promote preventive measures, and combat the impact of skin cancer in ourcommunities.


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Stephanie Duguid is owner of Do Good ProHealth (CPR Classes) and Do Good Leadership (motivational speaking, and leadership and success coaching).


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