By Sarah McGinty, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist
It’s nearly summertime and most of us will be spending more time outdoors. And while we all enjoy some fun in the sun, overexposure can cause health problems, such as skin cancer.
This disease is the most common type of cancer in the country, however, if caught early nearly all forms are treatable. Unfortunately, according to a recent article published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, detection of skin cancers is down by 51%. This is primarily due to reluctance of patients to visit clinics during the pandemic. It’s estimated that thousands of skin cancers are going undiagnosed and therefore, untreated.
There are many forms of skin cancer. Risk factors include age, family history, increased number of moles and increased sun exposure. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and although it is rare, accounting for only about 1% of all skin cancers, it is one of the most common types among young adults less than 30. So, regardless of age everyone should be screened once a year.
In addition to being easily detected, skin cancer is also largely preventable. Avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) is the most effective way to protect your skin from damaging UV radiation. But when avoidance is not an option, I recommend wearing protective clothing such as long sleeved shirt and wide brimmed hat with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) for an added benefit. Broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) should be applied to any exposed skin, and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Avoidance of tanning beds is always recommended as it can not only cause skin cancer, but also premature skin aging. Self-tanning products are safe, however, it is important to note that they do not offer any protection and should be used in conjunction with sunscreen. And of course, remember, being proactive is your best defense with an annual skin exam by a board-certified dermatologist.
Bring Cancer Screenings to Your Workplace
Mary Bird Perkins’ Prevention on the Go workplace program can bring prevention, education early detection services to people at the office, plant, car dealership or any other work environment in a convenient and private setting with minimal social interaction. An abundance of COVID-19 precautions are in place to keep everyone safe. I am one of the physicians who works with the Prevention on the Go team, and I can attest that they make it so easy that it’s hard to turn down. Screenings take place at work in a mobile medical clinic and take 5-10 minutes to complete. Any individuals with suspicious spots are referred to a specialty clinic and are assisted by a nurse navigator to ensure all participants receive timely and appropriate care. Other screenings, such as prostate, oral cavity, breast and colorectal are also available.
As a doctor, I encourage you not to wait. Ask your employer about bringing the Mary Bird Perkins Prevention on the Go team to your office. They are ready to bring this potentially lifesaving service to your business and protect every organization’s most valuable asset- YOU!
Dr. McGinty graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University. She then went on to finish at the top of her class from LSU Medical School in New Orleans and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. After an internship in internal medicine, she completed her dermatology residency at LSU Health Sciences Center where she received training from experts in the field. She specializes in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology.