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Dispelling Myths to Decrease Skin Cancer in Latinos

**Prevailing Myth – People with darker skin do not get skin cancer.

Wrong!

**This misconception is causing problems:

  • Skin cancer rates are rising among Hispanics
  • In the past 20 years, skin cancer rates for this group have gone up 20%
  • Hispanics who get skin cancer are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages – when it’s harder to treat

In 2016, those who identified themselves as Latinos were asked about beliefs regarding:

  • Sun protection
  • How they protect their skin from sun

**They were asked to agree or disagree with statements like:  “Latinos with dark skin don’t need to protect their skin from the sun.”

  • Results proved that people think Latinos are LOW RISK
  • Overall, participants had little awareness of the subject – and do not practice sun behaviors themselves

How can a change be made?

  • Get the RIGHT message to Latinos by asking the right questions
  • Interview questions related to the topic were developed originally in English & then translated into Spanish –
    • some questions do not translate accurately – example:  the word “sun burn” when translated into Spanish may be interpreted as “tanning” – a completely different skin reaction to sun exposure than “sun burn”

New questions to spread the message:

  • New questions added to research interviews focused on the influence of family and friends on skin cancer prevention
  • Removal of previous questions (like those regarding tanning booths/beds) when past interviews confirmed that Latinos don’t tend to favor artificial tanning

**Result:  the research team will identify relevant sun protection messages to deliver in Spanish to the Latino community.

You Found A Questionable Spot…What Happens Next?

What To Do If You Find Something Suspicious on Your Skin:

  • Be sure to show your doctor
  • If skin cancer is suspected – exams and tests will be done
  • If you can’t see your doctor right away – take good quality, close-up photos of the area(s) so the doctor can see if the area is changing when you do get an appointment

Medical History & Physical Exam: 

Doctor will review your symptoms –

  • When the mark first appeared
  • If the appearance has changed
  • If it’s painful, itchy, or bleeding

Past exposures & family history –

  • Sunburns
  • Tanning practices
  • If any family members have had skin cancer

Physical exam – doctor will note –

  • Size, shape, color, texture of area
  • If there is oozing, bleeding, or crusting
  • The rest of your body may be checked for moles & other spots that could be skin cancer related

Lymph node check –

  • lymph nodes = bean-sized collection of immune system cells
  • Doctors may feel the lymph nodes under the skin near the suspicious area
  • Some skin cancers can spread to lymph nodes – as a result the affected lymph nodes may become larger and firmer than usual

Referral –

  • If you are seeing a primary care doctor & skin cancer is expected, you may be referred to a dermatologist
  • A dermatologist is a doctor that specializes in skin diseases

Dermatologist visit –

  • Standard physical exam
  • Many dermatologists use dermoscopy (also – epiluminesence microscopy (ELM), surface microscopy, or dermatoscopy) to see skin spots more clearly
  • A dermatoscope is used – special magnifying lens & light source held near the skin
  • The doctor may take a digital photo of the spot
  • Dermoscopy can improve accuracy of finding skin caners early
  • It can often help determine whether a spot on the skin is likely to be benign (not cancer) without doing a biopsy

Skin Biopsy:

  • If the suspicious area is thought to possibly be skin cancer, a sample of skin from the area will be removed and looked at under a microscope – this is a skin biopsy.
  • Many ways to do a skin biopsy.  The doctor will choose which to use based on:
    • the suspected type of skin cancer
    • where it is found on your body
    • size of the affected area, etc.
  • If a spot is found to be cancer, or a pre-cancer, your doctor may do more tests or just treat it
  • If it is a small spot that has not yet spread –
    • more extensive biopsy (to remove more tissue)
    • Some type of surgery
    • *may be all that is needed
  • More widespread – especially melanomas –
    • imaging tests to see if it has spread
    • treatment such as:  immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation may be needed

 

What Should I Look For On a Skin Self-Exam?

  • Skin cancers can show up in MANY shapes and SIZES.
  • Be SURE to show your doctor any areas that concern you.
  • Tell your doctor, especially, if any areas have just appeared or have changed recently.

BASAL & SQUAMOUS CELL CANCERS:

  • Most often found in areas that get exposed to a lot of sun – head, neck, arms – but can develop anywhere on the body.
  • Look for new growths, spots, bumps, patches, or sores that don’t heal after several weeks.
  • Shaving cuts that don’t heal in a few days sometimes turn out to be skin cancers, which often bleed easily.  (They are not caused by shaving).

Basal Cell Carcinomas:

Can appear in a number of different ways:

  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar
  • Raised red patches that might be itchy
  • Small, pink or red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas
  • Pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in the center, which might have abnormal blood vessels spreading out from them
  • Open sores (which may have oozing or crusted areas) that don’t heal and then come back

Squamous Cell Carcinomas:

Can appear as:

  • Rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed
  • Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower area in the center
  • Open sores (which may have oozing or crusted areas) that don’t heal, or heal and then come back
  • Wart-like growths

*Both of the above types of skin cancer may develop as a flat area showing only slight changes from normal skin.

Actinic keratosis

  • Also known as solar keratosis
  • A skin condition that can sometimes progress to squamous cell cancer (although most of them do not)
  • They are caused by too much sun exposure
  • Usually small (less than 1/4 inch across), rough or scaly spots
  • May be pink or flesh-colored
  • Usually start on face, ears, back of the hands, and arms, but can occur on other sun-exposed areas of skin
  • People with actinic keratosis usually develop many more
  • Some can grow into squamous cell cancers, while others may stay the same – or even go away on their own
  • Can be hard sometimes, even for doctors, to tell them apart from true skin cancer
  • Theses areas should be looked at by a doctor who can help decide if they should be treated

Moles & Melanomas:

Normal Moles:

  • Usually evenly colored brown, tan, or black spot on the skin.
  • Can be flat or raised, round, or oval.
  • Generally less than 6mm (about 1/4 in) across (about the width of a pencil eraser).
  • Can be present at birth, but most appear during childhood or young adult.
  • New moles appearing later in life should be checked by a doctor.
  • Once a mole has developed, it will usually stay the same size, shape, and color for many years.
  • Some moles can fade with age
  • Most moles are harmless – but notice any changes in moles (size, shape, color) – may be a sign of developing melanoma.

Possible Melanoma – Signs and Symptoms:

Most important warning sign:  a new spot on the skin, or a spot that has changed and/or a spot that looks different from all the other spots on your skin

ABCDE Rule – Melanoma:

Be on the look-out and tell your doctor about any spots with the following features:

A is for Asymmetry 1/2 of a mole or birthmark does not match the other

B is for Border The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred

C is for Color The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black – sometimes patches of pink, red, white, or blue

D is for Diameter The spot is larger than 6mm across (about 1/4 inch) melanomas, though, can sometimes be smaller than this

E is for Evolving Mole is changing in size, shape, or color

Other Warning Signs Are:

  • A sore that does not heal
  • Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Redness or new swelling beyond the mole border
  • Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, pain
  • Change in the mole’s surface – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump

 

Skin Cancer: Prevention & Early Detection

Skin Cancer – The MOST COMMON Cancer in the United States!

  • More skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
  • The number of skin cancer cases has been going up over the past few decades.
  • Most skin cancers are caused by too much UV exposure.
  • Good News – you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family from UV rays, as well as to catch skin cancer early so that it can be treated effectively.

Skin Exams:

  • Most skin cancers can be found early with skin exams.
  • Exams by your doctor and checking your own skin frequently can help identify the cancers early – when they are easier to treat.
  • Regular skin exams are especially important for people at high risk of skin cancer:
    • people with reduced immunity
    • people who have had skin cancer before
    • people with a strong family history of skin cancer
  • Talk to your doctor to see how often you should have your skin examined.

Getting Your Skin Checked by Your Doctor:

  • Some doctors and other healthcare professionals include sin exams as part of routine health check-ups.
  • They should be willing to discuss any concerns you might have about the exam.

Checking Your Own Skin:

  • It is important to check your own skin – preferably once a month.
  • Best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror.
  • Use a handheld mirror for hard to see areas such as the backs of the thighs.
  • A spouse/close friend/family member may be able to help – especially with the hard to see areas such as back and scalp.

*For the first self-exam you do – spend time carefully going over the entire surface

*Learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes the next time

*Be sure to show your doctor any areas of concern

Step-by-Step Skin Examination Instructions:

Face the Mirror –

  • Check your face, ears, neck, chest, and belly.  Women need to lift their breasts to check the skin underneath.
  • Check your underarm areas, both sides of your arms, the tops and palms of your hands, in between your fingers, and your fingernails

Sit Down –

  • Check the front of your thighs, shins, tops of your feet, in between your toes, and your toenails.
  • Use a hand mirror to check your buttocks, genital area, lower and upper back, and the back of neck and ears.  It might be easier to look at your back in a wall mirror using the hand mirror, as well.
  • Use a comb and/or hair dryer to part your hair so that you can check your scalp.

*The best time to do this simple monthly exam is after a bath or shower.  Check any moles, blemishes, or birthmarks from the top of your head down to your toes.  If you look at your skin regularly, you will know what is normal for you.

 

 

 

UV Safety Awareness Month

It’s Summer, it’s HOT (100 degrees all week), and UV Rays Cause SERIOUS Damage!

Be Safe In the Sun

What is UV Radiation?

  • Radiation = the emission (sending out) of energy from any source
  • UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation (sounds scary, right?), with the main source being the sun – however comes from man-made tanning beds & welding torches, as well
  • UVB rays can damage the DNA in skin cells directly, and are the MAIN rays to cause sunburn.  They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.

How are People Exposed to UV Radiation?

  • Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation – 95% UVA rays & 5% UVB rays
  • Strength of the rays that reach the ground depend on –
    • Time of Day – strongest between 10 am – 4 pm.
    • Season – stronger during Spring/Summer.
    • Distance from the Equator – exposure decreases as you get farther from the equator.
    • Altitude – more UV rays reach the ground at higher elevations.
    • Clouds – some cloud cover blocks some UV from the sun & lowers UV exposure.  Some cloud cover, however, can reflect UV and increase exposure.  Important – UV rays can get through…EVEN on a CLOUDY day!
    • Reflection – UV rays can bounce off  water, sand, snow, pavement, or grass – leading to an increase in UV exposure.
    • Air Contents – ozone in the upper atmosphere filters out SOME UV radiation (one of the worries of ozone depletion = less filtering of UV rays).
  • Man-made exposure sources
    • Sun Lamps & Tanning Beds/Booths
    • UV (Photo) Therapy – for treating skin problems such as psoriasis
    • Black Light Lamps – mostly UVA rays
    • Mercury-Vapor Lamps – light large public areas…should be NO UV exposure from these IF they are working CORRECTLY
    • Xenon/Xenon Mercury Arc Lamps & Plasma/Welding Torches – mainly a concern in workplace UV exposure

Does UV Radiation Cause Cancer?

Sun Exposure Vs. Cancer:

Basal & Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Studies show a link in these cancers to certain behaviors that put people in the sun as well as a number of markers of sun exposure –

  • Time in the sun for recreation
  • A lot of time in the sun in a swimsuit
  • Living in an area with a high amount of sun
  • Having had serious past sunburns
  • Having visible signs of sun damage to the skin

Melanoma

Studies have also found links between certain behaviors and markers of sun exposure & melanoma of the skin –

  • Activities leading to “intermittent sun exposure” (sun bathing, water sports, vacations to sunny areas)
  • Previous sunburns
  • Signs of sun damage to the skin

Other Cancers

No studies show UV exposure to cause cancer in internal organs – due to UV radiation not penetrating deeply into the body.  There are some possible links to –

  • Merkel cell carcinoma (less common skin cancer)
  • Cancer of the lip
  • Some types of eye cancer (melanoma of the eye & squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva)

Artificial UV Sources Vs. Cancer:

Indoor Tanning

  • People who use tanning beds/booths have a higher skin cancer risk
  • Risk of melanoma higher if person started indoor tanning prior to age 30 or 35
  • Risk of basal & squamous cell higher if indoor tanning began before age 20 or 25

Welding & Metal Work

Welders and sheet metal workers may have a higher risk of melanoma of the eye

Phototherapy

  • People exposed to UVA as a treatment for skin conditions (as a part of PUVA therapy) have an increased risk for squamous cell skin cancers
  • Treatment of skin conditions with UVB rays alone (not combined with PUVA) have not been linked to increased cancer risk

Other Health Issues Related to UV Radiation

  • Sunburn
  • Rash/allergic reaction
  • Premature aging of skin
  • Signs of sun damage
  • Eye problems
    • inflammation/burn of cornea
    • lead to formation of cataracts
    • formation of pterygium (tissue growth one eye surface)
  • Can weaken the immune system
    • harder time fending off infection
    • reactivation of herpes due to sun/UV exposure
  • Can cause vaccines to be less effective
  • Some medications can make you more sensitive to UV radiation – more likely to sunburn
  • Certain medical conditions made worse by UV radiation

Open Positions at LMC!

The following positions are open to applicants:

Dietary ~ Cook ~ Full Time

Emergency Room ~ RN ~ PRN Night Shift

Emergency Room ~ LVN ~ Full Time Day Shift

Med/Surg Floor ~ RN or LVN ~ Full Time Day Shift

Med/Surg Floor ~ CNA ~ Full Time Night Shift

If interested, applications can be found by clicking the “Contact” tab at the top right of the menu bar on the home page.