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Skin Cancer Discussion

June 23, 2020
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, you’re probably spending more time outside, enjoying the summer sunshine. Being active by going on walks and runs is great for your health, but did you know that it could put you at a higher risk for skin cancer if you don’t use the proper sun protection? Too much exposure to the sun can cause serious damage to the health of your skin. Arun Mavanur, MD, Director of Surgical Oncology at GBMC, shared important information about the different types of skin cancer, what symptoms to look for, and the best ways to prevent sun damage and lower your skin cancer risk.

“You can get skin cancer at any age,” Dr. Mavanur explained. “Anyone with moles should have routine skin checkups. Most people don’t have outward symptoms in the early stages of skin cancer, but they notice a spot on their skin that wasn’t there before.”

Most skin cancers are caused by sun damage. So how do you stay safe in the sun? Dr. Mavanur suggested reapplying SPF 30 to 50 sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours. He pointed out that “even people of color need to wear sunscreen because you still can burn and tan, which damages your skin.” He also emphasized the importance of wearing hats with full brims and SPF-integrated clothing and avoiding spending long periods of time outside, especially between noon and 4 p.m., the hottest time of the day.

If you find a new spot on your skin or a notice changes in an existing mole such as a change in size, color, shape, or if the mole is scabbing, itching, or bleeding, Dr. Mavanur recommended visiting your dermatologist right away. The dermatologist will look for certain qualities that distinguish skin cancer from non-cancerous growths. If the exam suggests you may have skin cancer, you’ll undergo a biopsy. If the biopsy is positive, the cancer can usually be removed during an outpatient procedure with a recovery time of a few days.
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