Tanning beds are active all year round and this time of year the beaches fill up with people striving for that beautiful bronzed look. There's just one problem and it's a big one. Skin cancer is on the rise and people don't seem to be getting the message-- the sun is the biggest problem.
If they look, people can find all kinds of funny looking lumps, bumps and spots on their bodies. Many of them won't be cancer but more and more, doctor's like Savannah dermatologist, Sidney Smith, are finding that they are. "In patients that we see, we're seeing a lot more cancers." That's why at his new Skin and Cancer Clinic every employee from the nurse practitioners to the people who answer the phones go through a weekly seminar to learn to identify skin problems from the benign to the malignant. "The reasoning is the more educated everybody is the better we are able to serve our clients."
Doctors work to educate the general public when it comes to protecting skin from the damages done by the sun. From, "wear hats" to "use sunscreen" the advice is the same. "If you can try not to get sun between 10 and 4, wear sunscreen, none of the recommendations have changed," says Dr. Smith. "It's surprising how little people follow the rules, how often they get burned, how many skin cancers we're seeing in younger people as well."
Improved technology is making it easier for patients to get a fast accurate and relatively painless diagnosis. "We numb up the skin and just shave off the area, no stitches and just with that we're able to determine if its okay or not," says Dr. Smith. And he says people shouldn't hesitate to get anything suspicious checked out.
Follow the A-B-C-D and E's a skin cancer awareness:
if the area is
A Asymmetric-- not even
B Boarders -- uneven
C Color -- black is not good
D Dimension -- bigger than a pencil eraser
E Evolution -- changes in size, color or texture
For more information contact the Georgia Skin and Cancer Clinic at 925-0067.