Volume 2, Issue 1 - Summer 2017

Protect yourself this summer from skin cancer

You’ve worked hard all year — you deserve that vacation. But remember: Safety cannot stop you when you leave the office or shop floor. 

By Dr. Marni Wiseman. 

What are the different types of skin cancer?

There are three primary types of skin cancer: Melanoma is the most serious; basal cell carcinoma is the most common; and the third is squamous cell carcinoma.

Why is early detection so important?

Early detection is vital, because it may lead to better patient outcomes. Patients who are diagnosed earlier may have smaller scars, better cosmetic results, and in some cases, particularly with melanoma, an improved rate of survival.

What are the different treatments?

A person’s treatment depends upon the type and location of their cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for skin cancer; however, some skin cancers may also be treated with radiation, different types of anti-cancer creams, or occasionally chemotherapy.

What can be done to protect you and your loved ones?

Prevention is so important. The sun is a major cause of skin cancer, so be sure to take precautions this summer:

Seek the shade. Stay in the shade or under an umbrella, if possible.

Cover up. Wear a hat with a wide brim, as well as clothing to protect the skin from the sun.

Wear sunblock. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 is recommended.

Avoid the most dangerous rays. On sunny days, try to participate in outdoor activities either before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. It is during mid-day that the sun is at its strongest.

Be aware of your skin. If you are worried about a spot, bring it to the attention of your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The Canadian Dermatology Association has an excellent website at dermatology.ca. Additionally, the SKiNWISE DERMATOLOGY website contains helpful information, which can be found at skinwise.ca.

Who is at risk for contracting skin cancer?

Although skin cancer can occur in anybody, it is more common in people who have fair skin, freckles, light hair, blue eyes, or people who have had significant sun exposure. It is never too late to protect yourself from the sun, even if you have had a significant amount of exposure in the past.

There is never any reason for people to intentionally tan, in tanning beds, or outdoors. These harmful rays lead to sun damage and may give rise to skin cancer and advanced aging.

Dr. Marni Wiseman is the owner and medical director of SKiNWISE DERMATOLOGY. She also serves as an associate professor at the University of Manitoba and as director of cutaneous oncology at CancerCare Manitoba.