New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Health

One in Five Americans Will Develop Some Type of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and more than 1 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. One in five Americans will develop this disease in their lifetime. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon combined. There are 2 types of skin cancer that are very common and highly curable: basil and squamous cell carcinomas.These are commonly frozen or burned off at the dermatologist’s office. Both can appear to be a bump that bleeds and crusts over or a flat lesion with a scaly crust. Any new or abnormal finding on the skin should be reported to the physician.Melanoma, the third type of skin cancer, is the least common but the most serious.It can quickly spread to other parts of the body so early detection is crucial. 54,000 cases of melanoma were reported in 2006 and 15% of these resulted in deaths. There has been a dramatic rise within the ages of 18-24 year olds due to the popularity of tanning beds.According to the CDC, 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. This is an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. Too much exposure to UV rays can change skin texture and cause the skin to age prematurely thus leading to skin cancer.

Certain people are at a higher risk for getting skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute lists the following risk factors: fair complexion with blond or red hair, blue or green eyes.

Family history of skin cancer

Unprotected exposure to the sun

History of sunburns as a child

Multiple or atypical moles

Skin that burns easily or freckles

A few simple tips can prevent most skin cancers. It only takes 15 minutes of unprotected UV exposure to cause skin damage.

Avoid the sun between 10AM to 4PM as the UV rays are the most harmful

Wear protective clothing including sunglasses and a hat.

Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

Most importantly, apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30.The key is to reapply frequently, at least every 2 hours. Reapply immediately after swimming or contact with water or perspiration.

An alarming statistic is that 40-50% of Americans aged 65 will have skin cancer at least once in their lifetime.Many elderly are unable to check their skin themselves, lack transportation, have inadequate insurance coverage or limited access to local dermatologists. The New Britain Health Department has recently received a grant from the North Central Area on Aging to provide free screenings for those over the age of 50.

Dr Allen Kallor of 40 Hart Street in New Britain will be conducting a personal skin cancer screening under this grant funding for 3 sessions. The first screening will take place at the New Britain Senior Center located on 55 Pearl St. on Nov. 18 from 9:30 a.m. -12:30. Each screening will take approximately 15 minutes and will include a thorough body inspection. This is by appointment and only those who do not have a diagnosis of skin cancer and /or have no local dermatologist will be eligible. Please call the New Britain Health Department at 860-826-3464 between 8:30 and 3:30 to schedule an appointment.

The Health Department will be offering an educational in-service on skin cancer on November 8th at 10am at the Senior Center. This is an informative session and participants will be eligible to sign up for the free skin screening.