Dr. Chen shares expert advice on how you can prevent skin cancer and explains why sun safety is so important for you and your family.
Skin cancers are the most common cancers in men and women in the United States. What's more, as a type of skin cancer, melanomas are a leading cause of death from cancers.
What causes skin cancers and what can you do to minimize your risks?
Skin cancer is a lifestyle disease affecting nearly all age groups. In the course of a lifetime, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer; currently 13 million Americans are living with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer (either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma), and nearly 800,000 Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
There is good news. Skin cancer is highly preventable. Skin cancer is also highly treatable when detected early.
“Most melanomas and nearly all other types of skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices,” says Robert Chen, MD, PhD, of Acacia Dermatology. “Regardless of skin tone everyone should practice sun safety and incorporate sun protection measures into their daily routine.”
"Nearly 800,000 Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer."
Here are eight tips from Dr. Chen on how to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when sun's rays are strongest.
- Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
- Avoid indoor tanning. UV radiation from tanning devices is now known to cause skin cancers. Those who make just four visits to a tanning salon per year can increase their risk for melanoma by 11%.
- Cover up. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven fabrics. Also don't forget to don a broad-brimmed hat and wear UV protective sunglasses.
- Use a broad-spectrum (UVA+UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply throughout the day.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens may be used on babies over the age of six months, but they should also be protected by shade and clothing. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation—just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams should not replace the important, annual skin exam performed by a dermatologist, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a dermatologist immediately.
- See your Board Certified Dermatologist every year for a professional, full skin exam. The American Academy of Dermatology can help you find a dermatologist in your area.
Skin care blog by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology (Copyright © 2017).
Sun protection and skin cancer prevention ideally includes the regular use of sunscreen. Make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher and water resistant.Read More
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Acacia Dermatology & Dr. Robert Chen participated in Healthy Tennessee's 2017 Lawrenceburg Health Screening. He will be providing free skin cancer screening as a part of American Academy of Dermatology's Spot Skin Cancer initiative.Read More
One of the most common reasons people come to see us at Acacia Dermatology is because of dry or sensitive skin. Dry skin can be unsightly and folks with dry skin can be prone to irritation and itchiness, especially when the weather is dry or (paradoxically) when it's hot and humid.
If you have dry skin, the first thing to do is make sure you moisturize every day, especially after showering or bathing.
If you find moisturizing lotions to be inadequate, that is because lotions are fairly "thin" and do not do a good job at sealing your skin to prevent moisture loss. In this case you can do better by switching your lotion product to a cream product, one that is thicker, and do a much better job at sealing in the moisture within your skin.
There are many effective moisturizing cream products in the market, such as those from Eucerin, Aveeno, Vanicream, CeraVe, and others. I highly recommend Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. It's the product I use daily for me and my family. Go to www.cetaphil.com/offers for a $1 off in-store coupon if you are interested in trying out this great product.
Skin care blog by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology & Laser Center (Copyright © 2017).
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Xtrac laser therapy is used to treat psoriasis and vitiligo, as well as some forms of eczema. It is a targeted laser (specific light source with one wavelength) that we use to treat individual spots and areas to clear up these conditions. The laser is focused on the patches of skin that are involved and over time the patches improve. Usually the procedure lasts about 10-20 minutes, is not painful, and is covered by most insurance plans. Our staff is trained and experienced with this laser and we have flexible appointments to best serve your needs.
How do I know if I need XTRAC?
Any patient with mild to moderate psoriasis will benefit from this treatment. This can include patients that have failed topical or systemic medications, or have not been able to achieve total control of their psoriasis with these therapies. Even patients on biologic medications can achieve better control with this laser therapy by clearing those stubborn plaques of psoriasis that don't completely resolve with these drugs. There is also no pain during the treatment and children will tolerate it well.
How does XTRAC work?
Developed by PhotoMedex, the XTRAC Velocity excimer laser offers new hope to individuals suffering from psoriasis, vitiligo, and other skin conditions. Introduced in 2000, the XTRAC is the first FDA market-cleared excimer laser system for the treatment of psoriasis. It is also cleared for treatment of vitiligo and atopic dermatitis.
The treatment can feel warm at times, but most patients do not feel anything during their treatment. Mineral oil may be applied to the skin prior to treatment to allow the laser to penetrate into the plaques better. A mild sunburn effect may be appreciated 12-24 hours after treatment which can include mild redness, itching or burning, but the symptoms are minimal and tolerable.
The excimer laser is used to perform the treatments. The laser head has a small spot size that we rest on the skin and move across the areas of affected skin only. Templates may be used to treat very small areas of psoriasis in order to protect normal skin.
What benefits can I expect?
Using a carefully focused beam of laser light delivered through a sophisticated fiber-optic delivery system, the XTRAC Velocity system is designed to clear unsightly psoriatic skin plaques quickly and effectively. Because it concentrates light on active lesions, XTRAC Velocity allows your physician to deliver the high-exposure doses of monochromatic UVB necessary for rapid clearing of the lesion without risk of damage to healthy skin. The XTRAC Velocity excimer laser treatment system offers psoriasis sufferers many benefits. Depending on the extent and severity of your psoriasis, these can include:
- Effective clearing - generally in 10 or less brief sessions
- Provides long-lasting relief-typically several months free of symptoms
- Quick, easy, painless treatment-sessions last only a few minutes
- Relief without messy creams and daily skin care regimen
What are the risks and side effects?
UVB therapy is utilized which can increase risk for non-melanoma skin cancers. However, UVB therapy has been widely used for years to treat psoriasis patients and has great success. Again, with the ability to deliver the energy to small areas we are able to achieve a faster, better result while sparing the unaffected skin. The benefits of the treatment far out way any negatives of the treatment.
Prior to treatment all potential risks and side effects will be discussed with you by your medical provider.
How will I look and feel during and after the treatment?
The skin may appear red like a mild sunburn 12-24 hours after treatment. Rarely someone may actually develop blisters from the treatment but in clinical studies this equated to a better, faster result for patients.
Is there another way to get the same effect?
Other treatment options for psoriasis include topical medications, systemic medications and even UVB or UVA therapy in a light box that treats the entire body. Each of these treatments has their own side effect profile which can be extensive depending on the treatment.
These treatments will not work the same for everyone and may or may not give the same effect that XTRAC Velocity laser provides.
The XTRAC Velocity excimer laser delivers a more controlled dose of UVB light only to the plaques of psoriasis. Traditional UVB therapy treats the entire body surface area, takes more treatments and requires much longer treatments to achieve clearance of psoriasis plaques.
Some patients need to be in a light box as long as 30 minutes at a time while the XTRAC Velocity takes less than ten minutes for a treatment.
We can also treat the scalp with this laser, but traditional light therapy is unable to penetrate into the scalp. Scalp psoriasis can be a very stubborn condition to treat and often requires multiple, messy topical medications which don't necessarily work for everyone.
Can this be combined with other treatments?
Absolutely! This is one of the great things about this laser treatment. We can use it with topical and systemic medications to get a quicker result and often achieve remission times of 3-6 months!
What is the cost of XTRAC Velocity Excimer Laser?
The laser treatment is covered under most insurance plans. A prior authorization will be done prior to starting treatments.
Laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the US. Despite its popularity, the treatment may be intimidating to some. We answer a few of the most frequently asked questions to demystify this popular procedure.
Q: How does laser hair removal work?
A: Each pulse of the laser focuses highly concentrated light beam at the root of the hair follicle. The follicles are destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin.
Q: Is laser hair removal safe? What areas can be treated?
A: Laser hair removal is safe for treating almost any area of the body including the face, arms, underarms, bikini line and legs. At Acacia Dermatology, Dr. Chen and his staff carefully treat their patients with the Cutera Coolglide laser, safe and effective for both men and women.
Q: How long does each treatment session take?
A: Each pulse of the laser takes less than a second. Therefore, small areas like the upper lip take only several minutes to treat while larger areas such as the back or legs will take proportionately longer.
Q: How many treatments do I need to get rid of unwanted hair?
A: 4 to 6 treatments are usually required. The treatments can be performed approximately every month until the hair stops growing. Annual maintenance treatments may be needed to ensure long-lasting results.
Q: How much does laser hair removal cost?
A: The cost of the procedure as well as the amount of sessions needed to remove unwanted hair depends on the size of the area on the body, the color and thickness of the hair, and the skin type and color of the patient. Sessions are priced individually and customized to your needs. Be sure to ask about our discounted treatment packages.
Q: Are the treatments painful? How will I feel afterwards?
A: You can expect to feel minimal pain during the procedure. There are usually little to no side effects afterwards. Since the treatment is so quick and no downtime is usually expected, you can go about your normal activities directly following the procedure.
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The above blog entry is written by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology & Laser Center (Copyright © 2016).
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Dr. Robert Chen of Acacia Dermatology was interviewed in an article titled "Skin cancer still deadly problem: Education remains key to prevent one of nation’s overlooked killers," published in the May 10, 2014 edition of the Florence newspaper, the TimesDaily.
Many thanks to Tom Smith, Senior Staff Writer of Florence TimesDaily, for working hard to bring sun safety and skin cancer awareness to the forefront of the Shoals and Lawrence County Communities.
To read the story, please go to: http://www.timesdaily.com/life/health/article_2d092634-d8c5-11e3-83c0-001a4bcf6878.html