News 8 on call – May is skin cancer awareness month

Health

It is estimated about 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

News 8 sat down with Dermatologist Dr. Katie Suozzi at Yale Cancer Center to get answers to some frequently asked questions:

How safe are sunscreens? 

“The range we have on the market are safe to use,” she says.

Which sun protection factor or SPF is best for me?

“That’s measured basically by a percent of how much UVB the sunscreen is absorbing. At a SPF of about 15 you are absorbing about 93 percent of UVB whereas at 30 percent, that increases to about 97 percent.  Above 30 there are diminishing returns in the amount of UVB it’s blocking.”

Which product should I purchase? 

Dr. Suozzi suggests to read the label; Look for active ingredients preferably zinc or titanium based. She says, “They are less likely to be number one, cause irritation or skin allergy but also because the FDA has already said that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are generally recognized as safe and effective.” 

Is melanoma, the most dangerous of skin cancers, treatable?

“The majority of melanoma that are being diagnosed are early stage and highly treatable. Yes, melanoma has the potential to spread inside the body and be deadly where as the non-melanoma type of cancers have a much lower risk of that.”  

Related: Woman diagnosed with melanoma at 21 shares her story

How important is a skin exam? 

“This is an annual exam with your dermatologist but also self exams at home for the melanoma type of skin cancers. You want to look for moles on your body that are new, changing, bleeding. These are sensitive signs that they should be evaluated by your dermatologist.”    

What do non-melanoma skin cancers, the more common ones, look like?

“The non-melanoma type cancers look very different than melanoma in most cases and can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a rash or even psoriasis.” 

How often should I schedule an appointment with a doctor? 

‘In general, I think it’s really good for all patients to have a baseline screen by a dermatologist and they can individually assess their risk factors and see if it’s something that you should do every year, more frequently or less frequently.”          

Dr. Suozzi says be sure to protect the kids as well because one blistering sunburn in childhood can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.  

If you see something you are not quite sure about, she says have it checked out. 

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