“With months of rain and a population that tends to have fairer skin, it’s easy for people in the Pacific Northwest to underestimate their risk for developing skin cancer by over-exposure to the sun.”
Portland, Ore. (PRWEB) May 02, 2013
As the Pacific Northwest region heads into record temperatures this weekend, Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Western Regional Medical Center (Western) reminds residents of the Pacific Northwest that it is important to keep sun safety tips in mind—particularly since Oregon and Washington have some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the country.
“Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Walter Quan, Jr., M.D., melanoma specialist and Chief Medical Oncologist at CTCA’s Western Regional Medical Center. “With months of rain and a population that tends to have fairer skin, it’s easy for people in the Pacific Northwest to underestimate their risk for developing skin cancer by over-exposure to the sun.”
Dr. Quan believes in creating a culture of safety around sun exposure. He has outlined below a variety of precautions that individuals can take to limit their sun exposure and their risk of developing melanoma.
Sun Tanning and Sunburn
o Perform outdoor activities before 11:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. to avoid high-risk hours.
o Tanned skin is damaged by the sun’s radiation. People of all ages should limit their exposure to the sun’s rays.
o Avoiding sun tanning will help skin appear younger for longer.
o When your tan fades, your skin is trying to heal the damage caused by sun exposure. However, your skin never forgets what happens. Radiation damage is cumulative over the course of years.
o People at any age must avoid getting sunburned.
o Even one incidence of sunburn places a person at risk for skin cancer in their lifetime. One sees the effect of the sun exposure perhaps 30 years after the event.
o Children should learn to wear sunscreen at a young age, preferably under the age of 10.
o The higher the SPF the better, but sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15.
The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer
See your dermatologist for moles or skin changes that are:
o B—Borders that are irregular or ragged rather than smooth
o C—Color variation in the same mole (a mole that is more than one color or if you notice that a mole has changed color, particularly if it has become black or dark.)
o D—Diameter of more than six millimeters, that is, a new or enlarging mole that is larger around than the eraser on a #2 pencil
o E—Elevation or heaping up of a pre-existing mole
Skin cancer usually does not hurt. If you or someone you know notices a new skin lesion/mole OR a change in something you have had before, see your M.D. or dermatologist right away. In the case of a child, you should take them to their pediatrician as soon as possible.
Certain fruits and vegetables contain immune-boosting ingredients and are rich with nutrients. For example, citrus fruits contain antioxidants to protect cells from changes that lead to skin cancer. Eating three or four avocados per week can help reduce skin damage. And vitamin A, found in carrots, has been linked to a reduced risk of sunburn, which can reduce the risk of skin cancer. At CTCA, healthy dishes are served that help strengthen the patient’s immune system and helps keep them strong to fight cancer.
Important Information for Cancer Patients and their Caregivers
For patients undergoing cancer treatment, sun exposure may be unsafe. Intense sun exposure may further weaken the immune system in a person receiving chemotherapy. In addition, sun exposure while undergoing chemotherapy with fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil) may lead to more intense skin reactions and possible sunburn. Also, patients undergoing radiation therapy or just finishing treatment should also avoid the sun because skin exposed to radiation is very sensitive to the sun’s rays. Specific tips include:
o Sun Exposure – Be aware of the amount of time spent in the sun. The following tips are helpful for limiting sun exposure:
o Cover the head and ears with broad brimmed hats, which offer protection from the sun’s rays.
o If a patient has lost his or her hair, the exposed skin will burn easily.
o Wear tightly woven clothing made of light colored fabrics.
o Protect surgical scars from the sun, as excessive sun exposure may darken scar tissue.
o Always remember to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a solar protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
o Avoid Dehydration – Some side effects of cancer treatment may cause dehydration. Signs of dehydration may include:
o Dry mouth, thirst.
o Fatigue or weakness.
o Weak or cramped muscles.
o Dizziness, headaches, forgetfulness, confusion.
Ways to prevent dehydration include:
o Drink iced fluids before feeling thirsty.
o Eat vegetables and fruits with a high fluid content.
o Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
“If you or someone you love has skin cancer, it is important to know about all the available treatment options,” explained Dr. Quan. “At CTCA we offer patients access to the latest state-of-the-art technologies and treatment options. For example, one of the newest and most innovative forms of immunotherapy used to treat melanoma patients at Western is called Interleukin-2 (IL-2). IL-2 strengthens the body’s own immune system to identify and fight cancer cells in melanoma patients. Interleukins stimulate the growth of blood cells that regulate inflammatory and immune responses.”
Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center (Phoenix, Arizona) is the only hospital in the country that offers IL-2 as an outpatient treatment.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals providing a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment. CTCA serves patients with complex cancer from all 50 states—including Colorado—at facilities located in suburban Phoenix, suburban Chicago, Philadelphia and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to http://www.cancercenter.com.
Sarah Stephan or Emily Goetz
Pyramid Communications (For CTCA)