This has been a year of encouraging many clients and patients to go see their dermatologist because of some suspicious-looking lesions on their face and/or body.
More than 9,500 people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer EVERY DAY. 40-50% of Americans who live to the age of 65 will have skin cancer (SC) at least once. Approximately one in 60 people will develop invasive, malignant melanoma; and more than 2 people die every hour in the US from SC. More people are diagnosed with SC each year in the US, than all other cancers combined. And, if you have had 5 or more sunburns in your lifetime, you DOUBLE your risk for melanoma.
Sun damage is bioaccumulative. Although you will surface heal from sunburn, the CELLULAR DAMAGE TO YOUR SKIN CELLS HAS BEEN DONE. There are not ways to re-write and correct DNA damage. That is why prevention (sunscreen, serums, and healthy lifestyle) are best.
By law, I cannot diagnose unusual things I see while working on your skin. Aside from the usual things like acne, rosacea, seborrheic keratosis, broken capillaries, sebaceous hyperplasias, sun damage, milia, etc., I am not at liberty to tell you you may have a (possible) skin cancer. It is outside the field of my practice. However, I can encourage you to visit your derm ASAP.
You all know I harp on the virtues of mineral sunscreen use, and antioxidant serums to scavenge free radicals (molecularly-damaged cells), and potent growth factors and certain reninols (Vit. A products) to keep the dead skin cells moving off, and encourage the new cells to migrate up faster. This kind of care is not a luxury, but one of necessity.
Many people are ill-informed about skin cancer. SC's can pop-up anywhere (even on areas not necessarily exposed to sun); or be slow growing, or change from benign to cancerous. While some SC's may only affect the basal or squamous layers of the epidermis, others are invasive and can spread to other body organs (metastatic). Some SC's may not look like anything unusual. Your dermatologist will determine what's going on with visual aids and biopsies.
This is why anything suspect should be diagnosed by a dermatologist. Delaying the inevitable is not a good idea. Many dermatologists are very hard to get in for an appointment on short notice. SC's may go deep and require slice after slice of skin to be removed and viewed under microscopy to determine if all of the affected cells are completely removed (Mohs Procedure). Other SC's have to be cut out, and undergo surgical flap procedures performed by plastic surgeons to make the damaged area look somewhat normal again. I have seen way too many 'cut' noses & faces, and body parts disfigured by SC surgery... while many could have been prevented or reduced by addressing the issues when they show up.
Those red, vascular, scaly patches on your nose, cheeks, chin, ears or scalp... get them checked out if they don't resolve on their own in a few weeks -or- reoccur in the same place. That itchy brown bump that bleeds, the inward-growing dimpled mole, or red vascular bump on your lip; even the pearly white firm bumps (different from milia)... get them checked.
It's just not worth taking a chance. Please get an annual or biannual full body check by a dermatologist. You don't have to have a 'sunburn history' to get SC's. Sun may turn them on. Genetics play a role in their development as well.
At your next visit, let me share with you the science about providing extra levels of protection for your skin, using an appropriate sunscreen, potent antioxidant serums, and internal supplements.
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