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Cancer Doctors Advise: “Too Much of A Good Thing Can Be Dangerous”

The skin is the body’s largest organ and when it soaks up the sun, it helps produce Vitamin D, which is vital to maintaining a healthy calcium balance, immunity, blood pressure and insulin secretion. “When skin is exposed to the sun for extended periods of time repeatedly, however, the risk can far outweigh the reward,” said Rajiv Datta, MD, Medical Director of South Nassau Communities Hospital’s Gertrude & Louis Feil Cancer Center.

That’s because excessive sun exposure puts an individual at great risk for skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people diagnosed annually. In addition, the number of new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the U.S. exceeds the combined diagnoses of new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Besides sun exposure, other risk factors for skin cancers include having many moles; having a fair complexion; and a personal or family history of skin cancer.

If you enjoy basking in the sun, whether sun bathing, gardening, playing a round of golf or even attending your child’s sporting events, Dr. Datta advises following sun safety steps recommended by the American Academy of Dermatologists (ADD):

  • Minimize exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Apply sunscreen, with at least a SPF-15 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, to all areas of the body exposed to the sun
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days
  • Wear clothing that covers the body and shades the face
  • Avoid exposure to UV radiation from sunlamps or tanning salons
  • Have an annual skin cancer screening

The three types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and it usually shows up on the face, ears, scalp, neck, or upper body as a red patch; a pink, red, or white bump that is shiny or pearly; a crusty, open sore that will not heal; or a scar-like area. Squamous cell carcinomas account for about 2 out of 10 skin cancers and commonly appear on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face, ear, neck, lip, and back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinomas often look like warts or open sores with a thick, rough, scaly patch that can bleed if bumped. They tend to be more aggressive than basal cell cancers and are more likely to be found in men than women.

As the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma requires aggressive and skillful treatment. Malignant melanomas are usually small brown-black or larger multicolored patches, plaques or nodules with irregular outline. They may crust on the surface or bleed. Many of them are found in pre-existing moles.

Surgery is the most common treatment option for skin cancer. “Approximately 90 percent of all skin cancer patients are treated surgically,” said Dr. Datta. “Our team of surgical oncologists combines patient-centered treatment plans with leading-edge surgical technologies to remove skin cancer.”

South Nassau offers leading-edge surgical technologies to remove skin cancer, including surgical excision of melanoma with sentinel lymph node biopsy in selected cases. It also provides functional and cosmetic reconstruction after excision of the malignancy. For patients with metastatic melanoma, in selected cases South Nassau surgeons perform radical lymph node dissection, liver resection and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a process to heat and destroy liver tumors in conjunction with surgical resection.

A recipient of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Commission on Cancer (CoC) Outstanding Achievement Award, The Gertrude & Louis Feil Cancer Center treats approximately 1,500 patients annually. The Center has evolved into one of the Northeast corridor’s premiere providers of compassionate advanced cancer care. The Center is the only one on Long Island that is equipped with three of the most advanced and effective technologies used to treat and eradicate cancer: the Varian Novalis Tx™, da Vinci® Surgical System and Gamma Knife® Perfexion.

In addition to its Cancer Center in Valley Stream, NY, The Gertrude & Louis Feil Cancer Center incorporates the following specialty cancer care services:
  • GYN Oncology Department (Valley Stream)
  • Long Island Gamma Knife® Center (Oceanside)
  • Center for Prostate Health Program (Oceanside)
  • Center for Breast Health (Oceanside)
  • Center for Lung Health (Oceanside/Valley Stream)
  • Radiation Oncology Department (Oceanside and Valley Stream)
  • Surgical Oncology Department (Oceanside and Valley Stream)
  • Complete Women’s Imaging Center (Oceanside)
  • PET/CT Service (Oceanside)

For more information about colorectal cancer surgery or The Gertrude & Louis Feil Cancer Center, call (516) 632-3350.

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