The recently released Community Health Assessment by the Licking County Health Department shows that melanoma, a type of skin cancer, remains one of the most diagnosed malignancies in Licking County. Fortunately, melanoma and other skin cancers are highly treatable when detected in the early stages – but the outcomes may be more somber for individuals who delay diagnosis and medical treatment.
“Ultraviolet (UV) radiation contributes to the development of most skin cancers,” stated Thomas J. Hagele, M.D., of Licking Memorial Dermatology. “UV radiation exposure can occur naturally from sunlight or artificially from the type of lights that are found in tanning beds.”
Skin cancer occurs when the skin cells’ DNA is damaged, frequently by UV radiation, and the cells begin multiplying uncontrollably to form tumors. Although all skin cancers have the potential to be deadly if left untreated, melanoma is particularly dangerous because it spreads easily and resists some forms of treatment.
Dr. Hagele said, “Patients can play an active role in preventing some skin cancer. We advise our patients that whenever they are outdoors, they should wear broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, or wear a wide-brimmed hat, along with sun protective clothing.”
He continued, “It is vitally important to avoid indoor tanning beds. Many individuals believe that occasional use of tanning beds is harmless, especially to prepare for a vacation or special event. However, even infrequent tanning bed use increases the risk of developing skin cancer in the future. There is no safe amount of tanning, whether it occurs naturally or artificially. Any tan indicates the skin has sustained UV radiation damage.”
Those at risk of skin cancer include individuals with:
• A history of extensive exposure to sunlight (without sunscreen)
• Any exposure to indoor tanning beds
• Fair skin
• Blue or gray eyes
• Blond or red hair
• Many moles (more than 50)
• A family history of skin cancer
• A history of radiation treatment for any type of cancer
• A weakened immune system
Symptoms of skin cancer may include:
• A mole or skin lesion that has changed size, shape or color
• A mole that has a diameter greater than ¼ inch
• A mole that bleeds
• A mole with an irregular shape
Treatment for skin cancer depends upon the type of cancer and extent of the malignancy. If detected early, it may be possible to treat the cancer successfully by removing only a small amount of tissue. Skin cancers that have spread often require a larger excision area, along with the possibility of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Individuals who have any of the symptoms of skin cancer are urged to consult their family physician or dermatologist for evaluation.
Licking Memorial Dermatology providers are located in several offices, including:
Bethany Wyles, M.D.
687 Hopewell Drive, Building 2 phone (220) 564-1755
Thomas Hagele, M.D.
120 McMillen Drive
Kathleen Rogers, M.D.
1272 West Main Street, Building 2 phone (220) 564-1760
Laurie Schaeffer, D.O.
One Healthy Place