Stopping Skin Cancer

Summer is in sight. The days are longer, which means we have more time to expose ourselves to the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. But doctors are coming up with new ways to prevent the potentially deadly disease, and we’re not just talking sunscreen.

If you’re not applying enough sunscreen before you take a leisurely stroll on the beach you could end up in the dermatologist’s office. The good news is doctors are coming up with new ways to treat and prevent skin cancer.

Carbon dioxide lasers can be used to resurface sun damaged skin before skin cancer develops. “What we saw is that many of the very earliest genetic markers of photo damage, or sun damage, actually improved after the skin was treated with the laser”.

A cream called tretinoin (also known as Retin-A, Avita or Renova) works in a similar way. Dermatologist says, “This cream may be able to prevent these cells from developing into skin cancer cells.”

When prevention fails, immune system cells, taken from a tumor and grown in a lab, may be able to stop the deadliest form of skin cancer — melanoma. “And then we can give those cells back to the patient in very large numbers where they can fight and destroy the cancer”.

But this technique is highly experimental. Doctors say the best medicine is still prevention and early detection. “Anyone that has a mole that’s changing should have it examined by a doctor, and if there’s any question as to what it is, it should be excised”.

And don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen before your next leisurely walk in the sun.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sun exposure is linked to more than 1 million cases of basal and squamous cell cancers each year. These cancers are very rarely fatal, but removing them can leave behind deep scars.

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