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​​Skin Cancer FAQs: What Should You Know Going Into Your Treatment

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that about a fifth of all Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

Below is a rundown of the frequently asked questions about skin cancer.

​​Woman's mole being checked under a magnifying glass.

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer can be understood as an abnormal growth of cells on the skin. This issue usually occurs as a result of overexposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

What Are the Common Types of Skin Cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma

BCC is the most common of the three. It affects the basal cells of the skin, which are essentially the cells responsible for making new cells to replace the dying ones. BCC usually develops in areas that are most exposed to the sun, including the face, neck, head, and hands.

SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. It usually affects the outer surface of the skin in areas such as the head, face, and neck. It also occurs in areas such as the genitals and the mucus membranes.

Melanoma is not as common as BCC and SCC, but it happens to be the most dangerous — even life-threatening. It usually affects the cells responsible for making the skin pigments and can spread rapidly through the lymph nodes.

What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Each form of skin cancer is associated with some unique warning signs. 

BCC is associated with signs such as:

  • A small shiny bump
  • A scaly, red flat patch
  • A black or brown bump
  • A lesion that bleeds
  • A non-healing sore

Squamous cell carcinoma is associated with signs such as:

  • A scaly red patch that looks like a rash
  • A persistent small ulcer on the lips
  • A crusted open sore
  • A raised scaly lump on the scalp, hands, legs, ears, or forearm

Melanoma usually presents itself as a mole that changes shape, size, and color. The mole might also bleed, itch, or cause pain.

How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

When you notice an unusual spot on the surface of your skin, you need to see a dermatologist. 

The dermatologist will examine the spot to determine if you have skin cancer. To this end, your dermatologist will remove the spot or a part of it and study it using a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. 

If cancer cells are present, your dermatologist will write a biopsy report and highlight the kind of skin cancer you have.

How Is Skin Cancer Treated?

Skin cancer can be treated in several ways depending on the type of cancer in question and its stage of development. 

Some common treatment options include:

  • Mohs surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Cryotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy

Once you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, your dermatologist or surgeon will explain your options and advise you on the best steps to take.

Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented?

Since skin cancer is often caused by overexposure of the skin to the sun’s UV radiation, the best way to prevent it is to take measures that reduce your exposure to the sun. 

Some examples of such measures include:

  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Seeking shade whenever possible
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Wearing hats with wide brims
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants

It is also important to keep an eye on all moles and other skin lesions to make sure they look healthy.

Need to Learn More About Skin Cancer Concerns or Treatment?

Get in with Dr. Vincent C. Hung’s practice today to learn more about skin cancer and how it is treated.

Give us a call at (626) 432-5032 or fill out our online contact form.


9 Nutrients to Add to Your Diet to Help Prevent Skin Cancer

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

The link between what we eat and cancer prevention has been well-documented, but how can diet affect our chances of getting skin cancer specifically?

While there are many ways to prevent skin cancer (most notably avoiding direct sunlight and UV damage to your skin), your diet can play a role in keeping your skin healthy and cancer-free. Several nutrients (especially antioxidants) found in food can help you prevent skin cancer.

Superfoods, nuts, legumes, and more in bowls.

Our body can produce many of the substances needed to keep us healthy, but not antioxidants, and the best way to get these nutrients are from the foods we eat.

Nutrients That Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

The following nutrients are rich in antioxidants have been found to assist in the prevention of skin cancer:

  • Beta-carotene – Boosts the immune system by converting itself to vitamin A, increasing its ability to fight disease. 
  • Vitamin C – Contains properties that are toxic to cancer cells.
  • Vitamin D – Reduces cancer risk by boosting the immune system. 
  • Vitamin E – Helps protect cells from free radicals and UV light while acting as an anti-inflammatory. Improves the skin’s overall condition.
  • Lycopene – Helps protect skin from the sun’s damaging effects. It has been linked to a lower risk of many cancers.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Reduces inflammation while inhibiting the growth of skin cancers.
  • Polyphenols – Has tumor-inhibiting and anti-inflammatory components that help repair DNA damaged by UV light.
  • Selenium – Helps to reduce the risk of several cancers.
  • Zinc – An effective immunity booster that helps the body fight cancer and other illnesses.

Food That Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

Foods high in beta carotene like squash, carrots, peppers, and mangoes.You can find the nutrients you need to lower your risk of skin cancer in the following foods:

  • Beta-carotene – Orange fruits and vegetables like squash, carrots, yams, cantaloupe, mangoes, peaches, and apricots
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, bell peppers, and leafy greens 
  • Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids – Fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon  
  • Vitamin D Milk, cheese, and vitamin D-fortified orange juice
  • Vitamin E – Almonds, peanuts, beet greens, collard greens, spinach, red bell pepper, sunflower seeds, pumpkin (also rich in beta-carotene), as well as safflower, soybean, sunflower, and wheat germ oil
  • Lycopene – Red and pink foods like watermelon, papaya, guava, pink grapefruit, blood oranges, and tomatoes
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Walnuts and flaxseed also contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Polyphenols – Fresh-brewed black or green tea
  • Selenium – Brazil nuts, seafood, organ meats, chicken, and red meat 
  • Zinc – Red meat, shellfish, poultry, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts (such as cashews and almonds) — many breakfast foods are fortified with zinc

Staying Healthy and Helping to Prevent Skin Cancer Is a Win-Win

Man's back being examined for skin issues.Increasing your consumption of the foods mentioned above will help you stay healthy and is far more effective than using supplements alone. 

However, getting some of these nutrients in supplement form is better than not getting them at all, especially if you work outside, spend a lot of time at the beach, tan regularly, or worship the sun in any way.

Keeping your skin healthy takes a combination of protecting your skin from sun damage with hats, clothes, and sunblock AND being sure to eat a diet that can help you fight the risk of developing skin cancer.

Keeping Your Skin Cancer-Free in Newport Beach, CA

If you have any skin concerns, you can trust Newport Beach’s own Dr. Vincent Hung. He is triple board-certified in dermatology, plastic surgery, and internal medicine and the only plastic surgeon in the country board-certified in dermatology and trained for Mohs skin cancer surgery.

Call us today at our Newport Beach Office 949-574-8292 or Pasadena Office 626-432-5032 for a consultation — we’re here to help!


What Should I Know About Skin Reconstruction on My Arms and Legs?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

4 Minute Read: 

Skin cancer treatment on your extremities can leave your legs and arms with cosmetically unappealing marks. Scars from previous surgical procedures or injuries on your extremities can also make your skin less attractive. 

Unfortunately, these issues can hurt your self-image and self-confidence. The good news is that you can improve the appearance of your legs and arms by going for skin reconstruction surgery. 

Woman exposing a scar on her bare shoulder

But what does skin reconstruction surgery on legs and arms entail, and what can you expect from it?

When Is Skin Reconstruction on Arms and Legs Needed?

Treating skin cancer involves removing the affected tissue and cells through Mohs surgery

The primary goal of this procedure is to ensure that all affected cells (including clean margins) are removed. Unfortunately, this can leave you with large wounds that could affect your appearance.

Since going through skin cancer treatment is tough enough, you do not want these scars to constantly remind you of the ordeal. To improve the appearance of these scars, you will need skin reconstruction surgery.

Options for Skin Reconstruction on Arms and Legs

Skin reconstruction on legs and arms after removing cancer can be quite difficult because the skin in these areas is taut. 

Besides, the skin of your lower legs is under immense stress due to the weight that your legs have to carry. This means that it is not always possible to close the wound on these areas in a straight-line fashion. 

As such, your surgeon will need to get skin grafts from your thighs or other parts of the body to cover the area with lost or damaged skin. Other options include flap surgery and tissue expansion. 

The goal of all these options is to improve the appearance of the scars left after removing skin cancer surgically.

What Should I Expect From Recovery After Skin Reconstruction on Arms and Legs?

After skin reconstruction surgery, you will be left with two surgical sites to take care of: the graft site and the donor site. The wounds will remain dressed for as long as your surgeon recommends. 

You will be required to avoid strenuous physical activities for up to four weeks. 

Of course, you will experience pain for a few days after the surgery, but you will be given medication to manage it. You will also be required to avoid smoking and ensure that you visit your surgeon for follow-up visits. The donor site should heal faster than the graft site, but you should be okay to go back to your daily routine after about six weeks.

Interested in Learning More About Mohs Surgery or Reconstruction Afterward?

If skin cancer removal left your legs with unsightly scars, you can improve the appearance of the scars through skin reconstruction surgery. 

If you are looking for a Mohs surgery plastic surgeon who also performs skin reconstruction on arms and legs, Dr. Vincent C. Hung’s plastic surgery facility may be ideal for you. Contact us via 626-432-5032 for more information about skin reconstruction surgery.

 


How Effective Is Mohs Surgery?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

2 Minute Read: 

Any cancer diagnosis can be disorienting and frightening. Over 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. However, there is good news. Most cases of skin cancer are treatable, especially if they are caught early.

Stethoscope next to a clip board reading 'Mohs Surgery' on desk

When Is Mohs Surgery Recommended?

Mohs surgery is recommended for certain types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Other factors that make Mohs surgery the best option include aggressive or large cancers and cancers affecting areas with very little underlying tissue, such as the eyelids, noses, ear, scalp, genitals, hands, or feet. 

Previously treated cancers that reoccur may be eligible for Mohs surgery too.

What Happens During Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is a specialized technique for treating skin cancer, named for the surgeon who first developed it. The technique has evolved and improved over the years and is now considered one of the most advanced skin cancer treatments available.

The Mohs Surgery Procedure

A surgeon removes visually cancerous cells first, then carefully removes very thin layers of skin, one at a time. Each layer is examined to detect any sign of cancer. 

The person undergoing surgery is usually awake and alert, and the surgical site is numbed by anesthesia. 

Most procedures take place in a doctor’s office or clinic. The wound is bandaged after each layer of skin is removed while the surgeon examines the skin under a microscope. The procedure continues until no signs of skin cancer are present.

Surgical Goals

Surgeons undergo fellowship training in Mohs surgery to read slides of skin layers and coordinate microscopic results to the surgical site. The overarching goal of Mohs surgery is to minimize the risk of cancerous cells growing back while preserving as much healthy skin and tissue as possible.

How Is the Site Treated After Surgery?

The preservation of healthy tissue helps surgical sites heal quickly. Some sites don’t even need stitches. Other sites may need stitches, but the wound heals quickly. 

Sometimes the risk of scarring is greater if the surgical site is in a delicate area, such as under the eyes or around the nose and mouth.

Skin Grafts and Wound Care

Skin grafts may minimize scar tissue formation. People with large wounds may be placed under the supervision of surgeons that specialize in wound treatment. Specialized wound care may also be recommended for people with diabetes or other conditions that could complicate healing.

Interested in Learning More About Mohs Surgery?

You can contact Dr. Hung’s office in Pasadena at 626-432-5032 or the Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292 to learn more about Mohs Surgery and possible reconstruction options post-surgery. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.


What Are the Benefits of Wearing Sunscreen Every Day?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

2 Minute Read: 

Sun damage used to mean the occasional burn and a few freckles. But we now know more about the devastating effects of the sun on unprotected skin. Not only does exposure accelerate aging and cause fine lines and wrinkles, but it can also lead to unattractive skin abnormalities and even skin cancers

Woman applying sunscreen to her nose under a hat.

Now, parents are encouraged to slather children in sunscreen, and older adults are advised to avoid direct sun altogether. Even the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) strongly recommends the regular use of sunscreen for all ages to prevent skin cancer and reduce skin damage.

What Damage Does Sun Exposure Do to the Skin?

At the cellular level, DNA is altered when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. 

Even though you might not notice the effects of sun exposure right away, damage in the deeper layers of the skin accumulates over time. 

Without sunscreen, skin regularly exposed to the sun will eventually begin to show irreversible damage. This will manifest as wrinkles, sunspots, and cellular irregularities, such as skin tags and, potentially, cancerous growths.

What Are the Different Types of Sunscreen?

There are many formulations on the market when it comes to sunscreen and sunblock. The AAD suggests checking labels for products that offer this bare minimum: broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher (some products go up to 60 SPF), and water resistance. 

Sunblocks are less discreet but equally effective, blocking UV rays with a physical barrier made from minerals like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. However, they are a bit more difficult to use than sunscreen creams and gels absorbed by the skin.

How to Use Sunscreen for Maximum Benefit

Sunscreen will protect you better if you use it correctly. 

Following these few tips from dermatologists may help:

  • Apply sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before heading outside — it takes a bit of time to start working
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours — one application will not help you much for an entire day in the sun
  • Don’t rely solely on sunscreen for protection — seek shade, wear a brimmed hat, and stick to clothes that cover (many fabrics have UV protection built in these days)
  • Don’t forget these parts of your body when applying sunscreen: your ears, tops of feet, and the tip of your nose

Interested in Learning More?

Concerned that your skin has been sun damaged or that you may have developed skin cancer

Get in touch with the friendly professionals at the California clinic of Vincent C. Hung, MD, specializing in dermatology and plastic surgery. Call our Pasadena office at 626-432-5032 or our Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292, or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.

 


Is Sun Exposure the Only Cause of Skin Cancer?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Most people assume that skin cancer is only caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. It’s true, the sun’s UV rays are the leading cause of skin cancer; however, many other lifestyle factors can influence skin cancer development. 

Let’s look at lesser-known causes of skin cancer, so you can work to prevent it.

Women getting a mole on her back checked by a doctor, potentially for skin cancer

What Are the Common Causes of Skin Cancer?

Tanning

The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by sunlight. 

However, the sun is not the only way to be exposed to UV radiation. Another is tanning beds. 

Like the sun, tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays. Both of these penetrate the skin, and both can increase your risk of skin cancer (not to mention premature aging, rashes, and even allergic reactions). 

To make things worse, since indoor tanning does not require good weather, people can use these devices year-round, increasing their exposure to harmful UV rays.

Genetics

Unfortunately, some skin cancer factors cannot be avoided. Your genetics play a huge factor, and there is nothing you can do to change that. This means that you will need to be vigilant and aware of warning signs. 

Although, skin cancer can affect anyone:
  • Studies have shown that men are more prone to melanoma than women, and Caucasian men have a higher risk than other ethnicities. 
  • Certain genetic disorders that affect the pigmentation of the skin make people more prone to skin cancer. 
  • People with fair skin and freckles are more likely to suffer burns from the sun, increasing their risk of damage. 
  • Additionally, people prone to moles have a higher chance of developing skin cancer than those with fewer moles.

Additional Factors

Some people develop skin cancer if they have been exposed to high levels of X-rays or have been in contact with chemicals, such as arsenic, which miners and farmers commonly use. 

Skin cancer can also be caused by hydrocarbons which are present in tar, soot, and oils.

How Can I Reduce the Chances of Developing Skin Cancer?

The best way to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer is awareness and proper sun protection. 

Ensure that you always put sunscreen on and don’t sit or lay in the sun for long periods — especially during peak hours. It’s also best to avoid visiting tanning salons, which can damage your skin and may cause skin cancer in the long run.

People with moles should consider making a mole map. That way, they can keep an eye on their moles and watch for any unusual changes in shape, size, or color.

For more information about how to identify a melanoma, read our blog here

Contact Dr. Hung Today!

If you have any moles that you are worried about or have recently noticed changes to your skin, it’s best to visit a doctor for a check-up. 

Skin cancer affects as many as one in five Americans; however, it is usually very treatable when found early.

If you live in Southern California, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Vincent Hung. The team can be reached at (626) 432-5032 for more information about skin cancer tests and treatment, including Mohs Surgery.


How Does the Sun Damage Your Skin?

, | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read: 

Many people wish for tanned, glowing skin; however, tanning, if not done correctly, can result in severe skin damage. 

This means that having tan, beautiful skin when you are younger may result in wrinkles and sunspots at an older age. 

In addition to displeasing aesthetic effects, excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to avoid harmful tanning, such as tanning beds and sitting in the sun, and switch to spray tans or tanning lotion to maintain your skin’s glowing, youthful appearance. 

Woman in blue bathing suit spending time on the sunny beach.

How Can I Avoid Sun Damage? 

While the sun can damage your skin, it can also be healthy for you. The sun can provide vitamin D, improve sleep, improve mood, and even relieve stress. If you are going to spend time in the sun, you must take the proper precautions. 

1. Wear Sunscreen 

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is surprising how many people do not wear sunscreen when they are in the sun. Even if you are not going to the beach or sitting by the pool, putting sunscreen on at the beginning of every day can protect you from the harmful UV rays you are exposed to throughout the day. 

Consider keeping sunscreen in your car or your purse for quick access and reapply as needed. 

2. Limit Sun Exposure 

We are constantly exposed to the sun during the day, even if it may seem cloudy outside. However, you should significantly limit your exposure to the sun during its peak hours. This usually occurs in the middle of the day. If you choose to go outside when the sun is brightest, consider wearing sunscreen or protective clothing to protect your skin. 

3. Wear Sunglasses 

The sun not only affects our skin but our eyes as well. Constant exposure to the sun can cause damage to the cornea, which can eventually cause blurriness and loss of vision. 

4. Wear Long-Sleeved Shirts and Pants 

In many situations, we cannot avoid being out in the sun. In cases where you spend a significant amount of time in the sun, sunscreen may not be enough to protect you. Wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs can help protect against sun damage. Additionally, wearing a hat can block the sun from reaching your face. 

5. Ask Medical Professionals About the Medications You Take 

Believe it or not, certain medications can increase sunlight sensitivity. This means that you are more likely to burn and experience the harmful effects of sun exposure. If you notice the sun is affecting you more than normal, your medication could be to blame. 

Please talk to your doctor to see if your medication is increasing your sunlight sensitivity. 

How Is Skin Cancer Treated? 

Thankfully, when caught early, skin cancer is treatable. 

Dr. Hung offers Mohs micrographic surgery to remove skin cancer and leave as much healthy skin as possible. 

If you have been recently diagnosed with skin cancer, please call Dr. Hung at his Pasadena office at 626-432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at 949-574-8292 to schedule a consultation for Mohs surgery. 


Skin Cancer Awareness

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Min Read

May is skin cancer awareness month. Skin cancer is the most common type, affecting more individuals each year than every other cancer combined. While the survival rate of skin cancer is extremely high, it must be treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes or other organs. If it is not, poses significant risks to your health.

Young woman seeing doctor for dermatological control

Skin Cancer Facts

One in five people is likely to develop some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. Nearly 9,500 individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, meaning that over three million Americans are diagnosed every year. While there are multiple forms of skin cancer, the most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While melanoma is considered to be the most dangerous type, each one poses a threat and needs to be treated as early as possible.

What Causes Skin Cancer

While some skin cancers develop from the existence of moles, the majority of cases are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation penetrates the top layers of the skin and reaches the deeper layers of the dermis, causing irreversible damage to the cells. Skin cancer develops when the damaged cells are unable to repair themselves.

What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

While skin cancer can be very serious, it is treatable and survivable when detected early. Your doctor will perform skin checks during your routine appointments but most skin cancers are identified by the patient. Skin cancer is easily identified when you know what to look for.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It typically develops on the areas of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. You should watch for:

  • Raised red patches that may itch
  • Flat and firm yellow areas
  • Translucent, pearly bumps on the skin
  • Pink growths with raised edges
  • Open sores that do not heal

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinomas are similar to basal cell carcinomas in that they frequently develop on locations that see considerable amounts of sun. Common signs of squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • Raised growths or lumps
  • Rough or scaly red patches
  • Open and oozing sores
  • Wart-like growths 

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer because it is the type that has the highest risk of spreading to the lymph nodes and other organs. Melanoma is often identified by the irregular shape and color of a growth. Not to be confused with moles or birthmarks, melanomas often appear:

  • Asymmetrical, with one side being larger than the other
  • To have irregular, notched, or blurred borders,
  • To have multiple colors, such as brown, black, pink, red, white, or blue
  • Larger than a ¼ inch
  • To change their shape, size, or color

How Can You Protect Yourself?

To best protect yourself from skin cancer, you should:

  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Perform self-checks by examining your skin in a well-lit room
  • See your doctor immediately if you notice any new spots, spots that look different from others on your body, or sores that do not heal

To learn more about the risks of skin cancer, contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032, his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292, or by filling out his online contact form.


The Dangers of the Sun

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

Loving the sun is easy; it is warm, inviting, and it soaks into your skin to provide you with incredible comfort, especially after you have not seen it in a while. And even though we all want to use the excuses of “I’m getting vitamin D” or “My suntan looks healthy,” the sun does far more damage to our skin than good. The sun is not only the leading cause of skin cancer, but it is also the leading cause of premature aging. Because of these realities, before you spend another weekend sunbathing at the beach, consider what you might really be doing to your skin.

Sunburn from beach sun light on the shoulder and back of caucasian girl-img-blog

Aging Skin

Unfortunately, many men and women do not understand the sun’s potential to damage skin until it is too late. People who believed it was important to become as tanned as possible during the summers of their youth may be in for a rude awakening. Sun exposure leads to the premature formation of fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and skin discoloration (age spots, brown spots, sun spots), especially on the highly visible areas of the face, neck, chest, and arms. While some lotions and creams may help prevent these signs of sun damage, they are often not strong enough to combat the damage that has already been done.

Skin Cancer

While we all want to maintain the aesthetic quality of our skin, there is no denying that skin cancer is a far more significant concern. Skin cancer is often caused by overexposure to the sun. It can be mild, such as basal cell carcinoma, which will not spread and is easily treated; or more serious, such as melanoma, which can spread to other parts of the body. Any cancer diagnosis is a cause for concern. Luckily, skin cancer is treatable when it is detected early and is preventable in many cases with adequate sun protection.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The sun’s rays can be catastrophic to your health if you do nothing to protect yourself. Fortunately, it is easier than you think. Truthfully, there is no way to stay out of the sun completely. There will always be times when you are going to want to spend time outdoors participating in activities, seeing friends and family, and living life to the fullest. You do not need to completely avoid going outside; instead, choosing non-peak hours (before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm) to be out in the sun is a very good way to enjoy being outdoors while minimizing sun damage. Next, keep skin covered with pants, sleeves, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.  Finally, use and reapply sunscreen on exposed skin,

If you are fighting against the effects of too much sun, contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292 to set up a consultation.


What Are the Causes of Skin Cancer?

| The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

Skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer found anywhere in the world. The good news is, while it is still cancer and must be addressed in a timely fashion, even the most severe forms of skin cancer are potentially curable as long as they are treated in a timely fashion. Risk factors for skin cancer range from genetic predispositions to your actions and habits. The following is an overview of what causes and puts you at risk for skin cancer.

doctor looking at skin-img-blog

Types of Skin Cancer

There are three general forms of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • The most common form of any cancer
  • Will not spread throughout the body
  • Cannot become melanoma
  • Usually not painful, though bleeding and crusting can be present if untreated for some time.
  • Treatable with Mohs surgery

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Not as common as the basal cell but more common than melanoma
  • Usually related to sun damage
  • Arises from precancerous lesions known as actinic keratosis
  • Most are slow growing and easily treated
  • Small subsequently can grow rapidly and be extensive. This is more likely in transplant patients, immunocompromised patients.

Melanoma

  • Potentially the most severe form of skin cancer
  • Can resemble regular brown or black moles but can also be pink, red, purple, blue, or white
  • Can spread to other parts of the body
  • Early diagnosis and treatment is vital
  • Treated with surgery, but generally not with Mohs surgery

What Puts You at Risk?

Sun Exposure

We’re all familiar with the fact that excessive sun exposure causes premature aging and the onset of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Unfortunately, sun exposure doesn’t stop there. Sun exposure is the foremost cause of skin cancer, said to be responsible for 90 percent of non-melanomas and 86 percent of melanomas. The sad fact is that as much as we love the feeling and warmth of the sun, it’s damaging to the quality of our skin and health. Sun damage comes from both UVA and UVB rays, and any amount of sun to unprotected skin contributes to this damage. You can experience sun damage even if your skin doesn’t show a sunburn. While most sun damage occurs early in life, sun damage collects and compounds throughout adulthood.

Moles

We all have moles spread throughout our body. Many of these are normal moles, small brown blemishes that are not damaging or threatening to your body. Unfortunately, while there are normal moles, there are also atypical moles referred to as dysplastic nevi. This type of mole can be a precursor to developing cancer, and the more moles you have, the greater the risk.

Skin Type

Although not always the case, patients who have fairer skin with naturally lighter hair and eyes have an increased rate of developing skin cancer.

Family History

At almost any doctor’s visits, you are likely going to be asked about whether or not a family member has had melanoma. This is because genetics can play a role in melanoma.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

While skin cancer is treatable, it is still necessary to protect yourself against skin cancer. How do you do this? The easiest way is to reduce sun exposure. Don’t spend extended lengths in the sun without adequate sun protection like hats, glasses, or clothing. Sunscreen lotion should cover any bare skin and should be reapplied if you are expecting to be out in the sun longer. In addition to the sun, tanning beds should be avoided as they also expose your skin to ultraviolet rays and increase your risk of skin cancer.

All moles should be observed. If you notice any new moles or if your existing moles are changing in size, color, or shape, see your doctor immediately to be sure that it isn’t cancer. While not all forms of skin cancer are necessarily life-threatening, all must be addressed and treated as early as possible. Cancer cells will expand, invade, and destroy other tissues.

 

To learn more about the causes of skin cancer, or to see if Mohs surgery is right for you, contact Dr. Hung by calling his Pasadena office at (626) 432-5032 or his Newport Beach office at (949) 574-8292 to set up a consultation.