Alex Miller discovered he had skin cancer in his late 20’s. Only after he cut himself shaving.
“I had a pink scar above my lip. And it was kind of circular. Within a few days, this pink scar, grew in where I had that cut,” says Miller.
His cancer turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. Along with squamous cell carcinoma, it’s the most common type of cancer Nancy Pemberton of Sills Dermatology in Jonesboro sees.
“And a lot of that is due because of our environment. We are a farming community, and lots of our patients are older patients, that have farmed throughout their lives,” explains Pemberton, who is an APRN. “We have seen skin cancer on the scalp, we have seen it on the bottom of the feet. No area is immune.”
Dermatologists stress importance of checking for spots. Alerting specialists right away of any that seem abnormal.
“If it’s bigger than a pencil eraser size, you want to be concerned about that,” advises Callie Graves, who is a physician assistant at Sills Dermatology.
Graves adds that “if you have a spot that you’ve had for a while, you notice it’s changing…[and] if it’s starting to bleed, itch, or you notice the color or size of that one changing, then you want to get it checked.”
Skin cancer prevention begins with limiting UV exposure and wearing sunscreen daily. Dermatologists specifically recommend wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above. That includes the words “broad spectrum.”
Pemberton adds that “broad spectrum means that protectant is blocking out all the rays. The harmful rays, not just some of them.”
Sun protection is beneficial for all skin-tones, headed into what’s expected to be a highly active summer.
Specialists also advise staying out of the sun between 2pm and 4pm. Wearing clothes that include SPF and avoiding tanning beds.