On June 9th, two oncologists in sunny Bakersfield, California led a public lecture on the dangers, signs, and symptoms of skin cancer.
The Bakersfield Californian reports that Dr. Luis Mariscal and Dr. Constance Stoehr led the public lecture and lunch in the San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH). Entitled “Skin Deep,” the lecture warned that the risk of developing skin cancer isn’t just reserved for people who spend too much time out in the sun or for habitual tanners. Although these people increase their risk of developing the disease that affects 20% of all Americans during their lifetimes, the average person is still susceptible to developing it.
Still, Mariscal, a radiation oncologist at the SJCH, was careful to point out that the greatest risk factor by far for developing the cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. He expounded on the dangers of UV radiation, telling those in attendance that everyone can get it by simply going outside.
The symptoms of skin cancer are fairly visible. Abnormalities on the top or middle layers of the skin are telling signs. Symptoms can be found on areas commonly exposed to the sun such as the limbs, torso, neck, face, and back as well as less exposed areas such as the palms of one’s hands and even under the fingernails.
Stoeher, a Medical Oncologist, spent her portion of the lecture explaining how to best prevent developing skin cancer. The most important preventative measure is applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, according to her. In particular, people should use sunscreen that protects against both UV and UVA (a special kind of UV) rays.
Stoeher recommended that people put on sunscreen even if they only plan on being outside for a few minutes.
“The most important thing to do for yourself, is to prepare every time you go out into the sun,” Stoeher said. “Even if you don’t plan on being out for long, all those minutes of sun exposure add up.”
Other recommendations include wearing wide-brimmed hats, long sleeve shirts, and shawls. Even using an umbrella can help block harmful UV rays.