Dermatologist in Indiana Concerned with the Rise of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in U.S.

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According to studies published in the March 2010 issue of Archives of Dermatology, there has been a marked increase in the number of non-melanoma skin cancer cases in the United States in the past several decades. A Medical Specialists Dermatologist, Dr. Donna Ward, shares her concerns.

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Dr. Donna Ward, Medical Specialists Dermatologist

The use of sunscreen needs to be a daily ritual. It cannot be brought out just for vacations. People tend to remember sunscreen for leisure activities and forget about it for everyday activities and work.

A recent study published in the Archives of Dermatology reveals that non-melanoma skin cancer has steadily increased since the 1990’s, becoming the most common form of cancer and affecting more people than all other cancers combined. With the sunny days of summer just around the corner, dermatologists are reminding patients to make sunscreen a key component of skin care. Indiana dermatologist Dr. Donna Ward says that, like all other pleasures that are hazardous to our health, the sun needs to be enjoyed in moderation and with good judgment.

Dr. Ward, a [link: dermatologist in Indiana [/link] at Dermatology and Cosmetic Specialists, can personally attest to the increase. “There has definitely been an increase in skin cancer and we're starting to see it in younger patients," says Dr. Ward. "I'm currently treating patients, some of whom are 20 and 30 years old, for various forms of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell."

Serious sunburns and accumulated sun exposure are the main culprits causing skin cancer. Dr. Ward and her associates at Dermatology and Cosmetic Specialists say people are simply not protecting themselves like they should. The use of sunscreen, protective clothing and hats is key to preventing harmful exposure to the sun. And, while the use of sunscreen may seem to be the obvious answer to sun protection, Dr. Ward says people don't use it correctly or often enough.

“The use of sunscreen needs to be a daily ritual," explains Dr. Ward. "It cannot be brought out just for vacations. People tend to remember sunscreen for leisure activities and forget about it for everyday activities and work. Sunscreen needs to be applied every day and, if necessary, several times throughout the day. However," she adds, "the sun can't take all the blame for skin cancers. Tanning beds are always a bad idea."

In addition to protection, early detection is the key to minimizing the risk of skin cancer. Perform a monthly “mole patrol” and look for new or abnormal brown-colored spots. If an abnormal spot is found, speak to your dermatologist about it. By using common sense, sunscreen and protective clothing, most people can safely work and play outdoors without worrying too much about skin cancer. If you do notice a mole that differs from others or a spot on the skin changes, promptly contact a dermatologist.

"I encourage my patients to check their skin regularly for suspicious moles and, whenever they have a concern, to come in and see me," says Dr. Ward. "With early detection and treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate. And, if patients visit me for a skin cancer check and want to talk about how to reduce the signs of aging, we can talk about that, too. As dermatologists, we need to work on keeping people healthy, but also happy with their appearance."

Dermatology and Cosmetic Specialists is a full-service dermatology group comprised of clinically trained, Board Certified dermatologists and physician assistants. These highly skilled dermatologists focus on three core components of dermatology: general dermatology, cosmetic dermatology and dermatological surgery. This group is a part of Medical Specialists Centers of Indiana (, a unique healthcare organization comprised of highly trained primary care and speciality care physicians and surgeons. Providing the highest quality healthcare to residents of Northwest Indiana since 1978, Medical Specialists Centers of Indiana strives to bring university level medical care to the community setting.


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Colleen Zubeck
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