Does Elevation Increase Risk for Skin Cancer?

Copyright Sam Ogden Photography

One of the most common questions asked about skin cancer risk, particularly by those who ski or hike, is whether altitude can increase the chance of developing skin cancer, specifically melanoma. We spoke with Jennifer Lin, MD, a dermatologist in Dana-Farber’s Melanoma Treatment Center, to learn more. Elevation does affect the risk of skin cancer because the higher the elevation, the more sunlight – including ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer – reaches the ground, Lin says. Technically, the higher you are, the closer you are to the sun, with fewer protective layers of atmosphere above you. Colorado, for …

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Screening Tips for Finding Skin Cancer Early

skin cancer screening

As we peel off winter clothing and head for the beach, it’s a perfect time to learn about the benefits of screening exams for melanoma and other skin cancers. Preventing these cancers with sun safety awareness is important – but so is detecting skin lesions in their earliest, most treatable stage. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common in women in the United States. About 42,670 melanoma cases in men and 31,200 in women are projected for 2015, with 9,940 deaths. It’s also the only preventable …

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What’s New in Skin Cancer Research?

SMALL_Gordon Freeman, in his lab for Paths of Progress, POP SS 2014

Although malignant melanoma has been attracting much of the media spotlight because of promising new immunotherapy drugs, advances are also being made in other types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are very common, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually. In fact, it’s estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. While melanoma tumors begin in the skin’s pigment-containing cells, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell cancers develop in cells at the base of the outer layer of the skin. They rarely spread to other parts of …

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Five Ways to Reduce Skin Cancer Risk this Winter

Lip balm sun safety

Whether you’re escaping the chill with a tropical vacation or skiing the slopes, sun safety is still important in the winter months. Because UV rays can be harmful even in frosty temperatures, protecting your skin is a year-round responsibility. Allison Goddard, MD, of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center for Skin (Cutaneous) Oncology, shares some wintertime sun safety tips to protect your skin and lower your risk for developing skin cancer: 1. Look for sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply to all exposed areas of skin, including neck, ears, and hands, and reapply every hour and a half that you …

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What are Merkel Cells?

Because long-term exposure to sunlight is considered a risk factor for Merkel cell carcinoma, it’s important to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Merkel cells are found just below your skin’s surface, on the lowest level of your top layer of skin (the epidermis). Connected to nerve endings associated with the sensation of touch, Merkel cells play a key role in helping us identify fine details and textures by touch. A rare and dangerous form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma is thought to originate from Merkel cells when they grow out of control. This disease usually appears as a painless skin nodule (lump) that can be skin-colored, red, or violet, most often developing in areas of skin exposed to the …

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Five Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

PF_Jennifer Lin166from BWH

As summer heats up, many people will be heading to the beach to escape the hot temperatures. But before you spend time in the sun, Dana-Farber dermatologist, Jennifer Lin, MD, has a few tips to protect your skin and lower your risk of developing skin cancer: 1. Do not use tanning booths Don’t hit the tanning bed for a “base tan” before you hit the beach. Tanning booths contain UVA rays, which can raise the risk for developing melanoma, the rarest and most aggressive form of skin cancer. Getting a base tan won’t stop you from burning at the beach, …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Men’s Health/Cancer Screenings

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Cancer affects thousands of men across the United States every year, with the most common diagnoses coming in the form of prostate, colon, testicular, lung, and skin cancer. Not all cancers can be detected early on, but for some forms of the disease, the spread of cancer can be prevented through screenings. As June marks Men’s Health/Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things you need to know about men’s health screenings:   1. Prostate Cancer One in every six men is affected by prostate cancer, which most often affects men over age 50. In addition, age, family history, diet and lifestyle, …

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What’s the Difference Between Melanoma and Skin Cancer?

Yawkey Center for Cancer Care healing garden.

Many people consider skin cancer to be synonymous with melanoma. As May marks Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, it is important to understand that melanoma is only one type of skin cancer; other forms of the disease are less aggressive and more common. Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, with approximately 76,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. It is also the most aggressive, and is most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis. Possible signs of …

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Melanoma: Five Things You Need to Know

Stephen Hodi, MD

Although skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases. The disease, which will be diagnosed in around 76,000 Americans in 2014, is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are found on the lower part of the epidermis. The disease can occur anywhere on the body and usually begins in a mole. “It is important that people protect themselves from the sun and make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma to greatly reduce their risk of …

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