What causes skin cancer?
When was the last time you put on sunscreen before going outside? If you rarely if ever put on sunscreen, you’re doing your skin a great disservice. While there are certain genetic factors that may increase our risk for developing skin cancer, the biggest risk factor is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. While sunlight is one of the biggest culprits for causing both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, those who are exposed to tanning beds and other artificial sources of light are also at an increased risk for skin cancer.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to protect your skin against the harmful effects of the sun. The first and probably most important habit to adopt is applying sunscreen every day. Applying sunscreen properly can prevent sunburns, and as you might already know, the more sunburns you have in your lifetime the higher your risk of skin cancer. The best way to prevent a sunburn is by applying a full-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB light. Look for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, and apply it 30 minutes before going outside.
If you’re going to spend some time outside it’s important that you also reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after getting out of the water. Remember, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful between the hours of 10 am – 4 pm, so it’s best to limit your sun exposure during these times. If you can’t, wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat and seeking shade whenever possible will go a long way to protecting your skin.
If you are fair you may also be more at risk for skin cancer. If you have a family history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer you’re also at an increased risk for developing skin cancer. It’s important that everyone, no matter how at risk they are, get regular skin cancer screenings from a qualified dermatologist. These screenings can also help us detect skin cancer early when it’s much easier to treat. If you notice a mole that is changing shape or color this also warrants coming into our office.
How do we treat it?
Here at Dermatology Specialists of Virginia, our dermatologist Dr. Theodore Sebastien has received additional fellowship training in Mohs Micrographic Surgery technique to ensure that patients get the latest and least invasive treatments and strategies to help remove cancerous growths. Dr. Sebastien is also the Director of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Surgery at George Washington University.
Mohs Surgery is considered the most effective technique in treating basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, with a 99% cure rate. This outpatient treatment is done in our office by Dr. Sebastien and Sarah Donovan, PA.