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Cancer answers: What is basal cell carcinoma?

Written by Community Health Network on 5/29/2014 7:00:00 AM

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer.

"Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer we diagnose in Indiana,” said Dr. Priya Young, dermatologist. "Nationwide, this cancer accounts for about 80 percent of cases."

It usually forms on skin that has been exposed to the sun for many years. Common places that basal cell develops include the head, neck, back of the hands and face, especially the nose.

It grows slowly over time and seldom spreads, but can destroy tissue and bone around it if not treated. It is the easiest skin cancer to treat and has a high cure rate when found and treated early.

According to, there are five warning signs of basal cell carcinoma tumors to look for: continue reading ...

Tags: basal cell carcinoma | Posted in: Skin Cancer

Swimming and sunscreen: What you need to know

Written by Community Health Network on 5/27/2014 7:00:00 AM

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of swim season. Being at the pool or beach all day can take a toll on your skin because the sun penetrates beyond the surface of the water. Chlorinated pool water is very reflective and salt water at the beach is abrasive to the skin because the mix of salty water and sand, which wears off sunscreen.

Before you dive into the pool or make a splash in the ocean, know how to keep your skin protected from the suns harmful rays.

Apply sunscreen

A one-time application of sunscreen during the day does not provide 100 percent protection from UVB and UVA light. The SPF rating refers to the amount of time of skin protection from UVA and UVB light. Therefore, the lower the number, the less time your skin is protected.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (it protects against UVA and UVB rays) rated SPF 30 or higher. One ounce of sunscreen is considered a 'palmful', and this amount should cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult. If you are spraying on the sunscreen, be sure to rub it in to avoid missing a spot. Wait 15 minutes after application before entering water, as the sunscreen needs time to absorb.

Don't forget to protect the top of your head with a hat, the top of your feet with shoes and your eyes with sunglasses.

Reapply sunscreen

Don't skimp on sunscreen! Reapply every two hours. continue reading ...

Tags: SPF , sunscreen , UV rays , UVA , UVB | Posted in: Skin Cancer

Treating deadly skin cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 5/22/2014 7:00:00 AM

Dr. Sumeet Bhatia is a medical oncologist and an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community.

The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma develops when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by UV radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

"Melanoma may be the deadliest form of skin cancer, but when it is diagnosed early, melanoma can usually be cured with surgery," said Dr. Sumeet Bhatia, medical oncologist at Community. "We want to treat this cancer before it spreads (metastasizes) throughout the body to the lymph nodes, lungs and liver. That is usually when I, as a medical oncologist, get involved.”

There are four main types of melanoma and each is found on different parts of the body:

  1. Areas with no sun exposure, the trunk and thighs
  2. Sun-exposed areas like the top of your head and back of hands
  3. Palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or under the fingernails or toenails
  4. On surfaces around the sinuses or mouth.

“Not all melanomas have the same genetic make-up and that is why melanomas have been categorized into four distinct types," said Bhatia." The good news is that the FDA recently approved new medical interventions for these types of skin cancer.” continue reading ...

Tags: melanoma | Posted in: Dr. Sumeet Bhatia , Skin Cancer

Don't fry, reapply

Written by Community Health Network on 5/21/2014 10:45:00 AM

Sunny or cloudy, the UV rays can burn. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before being exposed to the sun and reapply every 2 hours for the best protection.

Reapply sunscreen to avoid skin damageDermatologists recommend lotion over sprays because they provide more even coverage. If you are planning to use a spray, rub the lotion in and be persistent about reapplication.

Look for these factors in your sunscreen:

  • SPF 30
  • "Broad-spectrum" to protect from both UVA and UVB rays
  • Water-resistant
Apply to these areas:
  • Legs - Don't forget to get the backs of your legs where it is common to develop skin cancer. 
  • Face - This is the most common place to develop basal cell carcinoma. Apply a moisturizer with SPF and a sunscreen that's lightweight and oil-free.  
  • Back and arms - These are prime spots for melanoma. Have a friend help you apply to get to those hard-to-reach areas.
  • Neck and chest - Tour skin is particularly sensitive here, so apply sunscreen generously. 
  • Ears - The area under your ears is particularly susceptible to aging and cancer because it doesn't have the benefit of the shadow of your chin. 
  • Eyes - If regular sunscreen brings on irritation, try a formula with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Don't forget to put on shades that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Lips - Often forgotten these burn easily. Your ideal shield is SPF 30 lip balm. Avoid glossy lip colors as they intensify the sun damage.  
If you feel yourself beginning to burn, take a quick break under the shade, slop on some more sunscreen and slap on a shirt or hat for extra coverage.

Skin cancer screening
Worried or just curious about a mole or skin spot? Community has experts who can help! Call 800-777-7775 to make an appointment with a Community dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. Skin cancer has a 99% cure rate if detected early - so why wait?

Quiz: Are you sun safe?

Written by Community Health Network on 5/20/2014 7:00:00 AM

The American Cancer Society has an easy nine-question quiz to help you determine if you practice good sun safety. See if you're protecting your skin the right way - it only takes 60 seconds! 

Click here to take the quiz.

Posted in: Skin Cancer

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