The words “skin cancer” can be scary to hear, especially knowing that the United States alone sees millions of new diagnoses each year. When it comes to skin cancer, Charleston-area dermatologists Dr. Marguerite Germain understand that patients facing the prospect of dealing with the disease want answers to their questions and to know that they are getting the best care they can.
That’s why Germain Dermatology is committed to helping you stay as healthy and beautiful as possible by encouraging three strategies: prevention, detection, and treatment. Avoiding sun exposure by using sunscreen and protective coverings is the best first line of defense.
Regular visits with a dermatologist who will inspect you from head to toe for signs of skin cancer and other skin conditions is a key strategy, too, since early detection greatly increases your chances of a better outcome. If skin cancer is diagnosed, treatment with the most advanced techniques available can often yield very positive results.
Skin cancer typically falls into one of three categories:
All three of these skin cancers have a common root cause: cellular damage at the DNA level, which can be due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, also known as sunburn-generating light that comes from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
Dr. Marguerite Germain and the Germain Dermatology team want patients dealing with non-melanoma skin cancer to know that an effective and comfortable solution is available. The SRT-100 Vision™ by Sensus uses superficial radiation therapy as a noninvasive, virtually painless treatment for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and keloid-causing non-malignant tumor cells.
There are no incisions, so post-treatment reconstructive surgery isn’t needed. Sessions are quick, down time is minimal to nonexistent, and the device is FDA cleared
While skin cancer seems to have a genetic component, in that parents who develop cancers tend to have a greater likelihood of children also developing them, sun exposure is a significant risk factor. Avoiding sunburns, as well as cumulative sun damage from routine exposure, is recommended for anyone seeking to minimize their risk of developing skin cancer.
In general, try to avoid spending time outdoors during the times when the sun is at its highest point, typically late morning to late afternoon, or roughly 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If going out in that time, wear clothing—including a hat—that provides cover for the skin and scalp.
Any exposed skin should be protected with sunscreen when going outdoors, no matter the time of day. Apply it at least 20 minutes to half an hour before leaving the house, as that amount of time will allow it to penetrate into the skin and truly work as protection. The sunscreen should have an adequate sun protection factor, ideally SPF 30 or more. Germain Dermatology offers several skincare products, including sunscreens that are SPF 50+.
A good rule of thumb is to use about a shot glass worth of sunscreen to cover the necessary areas. Do not forget to apply it to bare areas of the scalp, the tops of the ears, and the tops of the feet if open shoes or sandals are being worn.
Also, do not think glass or clouds will protect you from harmful radiation from the sun. Common areas of sun damage include the arms, which are frequently left on arm rests on the inside of vehicle doors, where sunlight beats down on them for long periods of time. Overcast days may seem to block the sunlight, but they really only prevent a clear view of the sun itself. Ultraviolet radiation still travels to the surface of the Earth—and to the surface of your skin and below, where it can harm cells.
Treatment depends not just on the type of skin cancer identified, but also on where it is found on the face or body and how far along it has progressed. There are typically several strategies that can be employed, with one of the most effective being a specific type of surgery.