Posts for tag: skin cancer

By The Skin Cancer Foundation
February 27, 2017
Category: Skin Cancer

A good reminder from the Skin Cancer Foundation. It's important to remember that your family's medical history is crucial to your health.

So you're sitting in the dermatologist's waiting room, filling out the usual forms required for a doctor visit. After filling in the basics, you spot the next question and realize you're stumped: it's asking about your family's medical history. Has anyone in your family had melanoma or any other form of skin cancer? Here's why the doctor asks, and what you need to know: 

History Could Repeat Itself

A family history of melanoma increases your risk of developing the cancer yourself, according to Ramzi Saad, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and Skin Cancer Foundation member based in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In fact, about one in every 10 patients diagnosed with melanoma has a family member with a history of the disease. When gathering family history, Dr. Saad says, the more information, the better.

"We ask for a history of skin cancers, specifically melanoma, but getting a family history of all cancers is also important," he says. "There are some genetic connections between melanoma and other cancers."

Closer Relative, Higher Risk

Gathering accurate information about multiple family members can be a little intimidating, but Dr. Saad notes a few points that are of particular importance when digging through medical history. The number of relatives that have had melanoma, particularly first-degree relatives like parents or siblings, is a definite need-to-know. Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a whopping 50 percent greater chance of developing the disease than people who do not have a family history of the disease. 

Saad says the more complete the history, the better, but the number of first-degree relatives with the disease is the most important predictive factor for an increased risk of melanoma.

Take Action

What happens if you do find out that skin cancer runs in your family? Saad recommends extra vigilance for prevention, being sure to use sunscreen every day and avoiding unnecessary sun exposure. He points to our tips on how to perform a self exam, but notes that seeing a dermatologist annually is critical as well. 

“A full skin examination by a trained professional can help to identify suspicious lesions needing removal,” Dr. Saad says. A board-certified dermatologist will also be able to help patients keep an eye on lesions that may become cancerous in the future, and establish the appropriate follow-up frequency for that individual’s skin checks.

So in advance of your next skin check, try gathering some info on your family’s medical history. You might be surprised to learn that someone close to you once dealt with skin cancer, and that knowledge can help your dermatologist help you.

For more information about skin cancer see the Skin Cancer Foundations blog:

If you or someone you know should have their skin checked, give us a call today at 574-522-0265 to schedule an appointment. 

By The Skin Cancer Foundation
December 05, 2016
Category: Skin Cancer

Check out this article from the Skin Cancer Foundation. It's important to remember that people of all skin types and tones can be affected by skin cancer.

People who have dark skin tones often believe they're not at risk for skin cancer, but that is a dangerous misconception , says dermatologist Maritza I. Perez, MD, a senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.

"Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race," she says. While incidence of melanoma is higher in the Caucasian population, a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed it is more deadly in people of color. African American patients were most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group in the stuy, and they also had the worst prognosis and the lowerst overall survival rate. Most skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or from tanning beds, says Dr. Perez. Yes, darker skin produces more of the pigment called melanin that does help protect skin- but onlyto a certain extent. People of color can still get sunburned, and they can also develop skin cancer from UV damage.

It’s of concern that 65 percent of African American participants in a survey said they never used sunscreen. This needs to change, says Dr. Perez. “Remember, ethnicity does not define skin type. It can represent a wide range of skin tones with a wide range of risks.” To avoid premature aging and damage that can lead to skin cancer, everyone should use sunscreen every day and practice sun-safe habits, such as seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Additionally, certain skin cancers are caused by factors other than UV — such as genetics or environmental influences — and may occur on parts of the body rarely exposed to the sun. For example, people who have dark skin are more susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), an especially dangerous form of melanoma that typically appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. (The Jamaican singer and musician Bob Marley died of ALM when he was only 36.)

acral lentiginous melanomaacral lentiginous melanoma

People who have dark skin are more susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), like these examples above.


It’s crucial to detect skin cancer early, when it is easiest to treat and most likely to be cured. Dr. Perez says she advises people of all ethnicities to do a monthly skin self-exam and see a dermatologist annually — and sooner if any of the warning signs appear:

  • A bump, patch, sore or growth that bleeds, oozes, crusts, doesn’t heal or lasts longer than a month. This may indicate basal cell carcinoma.


  • An ulcer, scaly red patch, wart-like growth or sore that sometimes crusts or bleeds could be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer can also develop in old scars or areas of previous physical trauma or inflammation.


  • New or existing moles that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, more than one color, are larger than a pencil eraser or change in any way may indicate melanoma. Pay special attention to suspicious spots on the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails, which could signify ALM.


If you are in need of an annual skin exam, or you have a suspicious lesion, please give our office a call at 574-522-0265 to schedule an appointment today. It could save your life!
By DermacenterMD Team
August 22, 2016
Category: Sun Protection
Tags: skin cancer   cancer   skin   sun protection   sunscreen   health   medical  

Sunscreen is a must. It is essential that you protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Taking the proper precautions when it comes to the sun can decrease signs of aging and reduce your chances of getting skin cancer. Below you will find the answers to common questions that you should know make a point to know and understand. Knowing what sunscreen is and how it works can help you in your efforts to protect your skin and keep yourself and the ones you love healthy.

Below are several common sunscreen questions with answers taken from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

What Are Sunscreens?

Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.

What Are UVA and UVB?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. It has wavelengths shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave UV ray that causes lasting skin damage, skin aging, and can cause skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave UV ray that causes sunburns, skin damage, and can cause skin cancer.

What Is SPF?

SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here's how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB.

What Does Broad-Spectrum Mean?

Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Beginning in December 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to implement new rules for "broad-spectrum" products.

So, next time you head outside to enjoy the outdoors, don't forget your sunscreen!!


By DermacenterMD Team
August 08, 2016
Category: Sun Protection

In dermatology, acceptance and responsibility are two key components that we need.  Why?  Well, I will tell you why.  

The lack of protection from the sun is one of the underlying driving forces to precancers (actinic keratosis), wrinkles, pigmentation, and even skin cancer. Unfortunately, most every person does not apply the amount of sun protection that they should. It’s essential that we wear sunscreen and protect ourselves.  Even a scientific study done on farmers in west Texas backs this up. When sunscreen was applied to one half of the face and not the other half during three months of summer, the side of the face with sunscreen applied every day has half as many precancer (actinic keratosis) growths as the other side of the face. 

This simple study demonstrated the power of daily sunscreen for reducing precancer lesions. On top of this, we know that age spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer are caused by sun exposure. 

So, to get our skin looking and feeling the best, we need to use sunscreen every day. This can be in the form of lotions, sunscreens themselves, and make up for women. In addition, choosing a sunscreen that has the proper ingredients is key. Finding sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide is useful since these ingredients are physical blockers. This means that they bounce the sun off the skin. Another quality ingredient in sunscreen is Avobenzone or Parsol 1789. This is also an excellent ingredient which can be a powerful agent in preventing sun damage.  

Use daily sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide or Avobenzone (Parsol 1789) to reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer. The simple habit could pay big dividends!

By The DermacenterMD Team
May 31, 2016
Category: Uncategorized

How does ‘Slow Sun’ cause damage?

‘Slow Sun’ or ‘Incidental Sun’ is the sun we get without even knowing it.   

When we get in and out of our car going to and from work we often do not realize we might be getting sun exposure.  Unfortunately, the small segments of exposure to harmful UV rays we get intermittently throughout our life actually add up.  It has been estimated up to 85% of the cumulative sun exposure comes from this ‘Incidental Sun.’  

What does chronic sun exposure do to the skin?

It can lead to signs of sun damage.  This includes roughness in texture, brown or red spot development and wrinkles most often.   These features are often felt to be signs of aging.   It is not as noticeable at first, but something does occur with continued exposure.  This something is the development of precancerous lesions termed ACTINIC KERATOSIS.  These are usually rough and scaling growths on the sun exposed part of the body.   In addition, high lifetime UV exposure can lead to an increased risk of BASAL CELL CARCINOMA and SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA.  So each day we get some exposure we are increasing your risk of skin cancer.

Be aware of your cumulative sun exposure, even that from childhood.  All sun exposure plays a role in the development of skin cancer and precancerous lesions. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen and cover up!