Sun plus skin equals potential danger - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sun plus skin equals potential danger

May 21, 2007

Albany--  Spring will soon turn into Summer and that means more potential danger from the sun. Sun exposure can cause potentially deadly damage to your skin. More than 1 million people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year.

The first signs of the Spring sun usually bring about the sounds of splashes in the YMCA pool.  It's where you'll find Bob Leitner when the temperatures heat up.

Leightner said, "During the summer, I come two to three times a week."

While it's fun, there's always a concern for Leitner. "Absolutely," said Leitner.

That big concern is skin cancer. "I don't want to get it," said Leitner.

Albany Dermatologist Dr. Stuart Goldsmith says unfortunately, many people do get it. "Possibly 1 in 3 at least. Possibly 1 in 5 will have some form of skin cancer in their life if they're born today," said Dr. Goldsmith. The sun can cause damage to anyone, young or old. Cancer of the skin can range from the most common form of basal cell carcinoma to melanoma.

"The rate in terms of melanoma which is the most severe skin cancer would be 1 in 65," said Goldsmith. According to the American Cancer Society, there were more than 62,000 new melanoma cases last year. Nearly 8,000 of those cases resulted in death. But the good news is there was a five-year overall survival rate of 92 percent.

To achieve that rate of survival, it all depends on catching signs early.

"The old American Cancer Society sign was a sore that doesn't heal and that still bears true," said Goldsmith. Goldmith says it's all about the A,B,C's and D when it comes to melanoma which can spread to other parts of the body.

"The common thing is if the mole is asymmetric or if there's an irregular border or if there's a variation in color or if it's big. The D is for diameter," said Goldsmith.

D could also go for dark in color.  Before it gets to that point take preventative measures.

"Lifelong protection when you are outside and it doesn't mean don't go outside. It just means go outside and be prudent about it," said Goldsmith.

Avoid middle day sun exposure between 10 and 4, cover up and use sunscreen. "I think most of the sunscreens if applied correctly, actually work. I would say most if they have an SPF of 30 or greater," said Goldsmith.

Leightner makes sure he follows that advice. "I've got 48, 30 and 15 and depending how much sun, I use 48," said Leightner.

That way the happy sun doesn't lead to a sad discovery on his skin.

Although it's more common for those with fair skin to get skin cancer it can affect anyone. Dr. Goldsmith warns that tanning beds can be just as harmful or more harmful than natural sunlight.  

feedback: news@walb.com?subject=SkinCancer