Regional West will host public seminar on skin cancer

July 10, 2016 GMT

We all know that the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can be harmful to our skin. But most of us don’t take it as seriously as we should.

Regional West Health Services will be hosting a free public seminar from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12, in the Education Center in the upper lobby of the Regional West Medical Center. The purpose will be to discuss melanoma and other types of skin cancer. The seminar will cover skin cancer prevention, causes and risks, signs and symptoms and treatment.

The featured speaker will be Dr. John Blomstedt, a physician with the Skin Clinic and Medical Aesthetic Center, which is part of Regional West Physicians Clinic.

During the session, Blomstedt, who specializes in dermatology, will talk about the different types of skin cancer, what to look for, how to prevent it, risks, and treatments.

“We used to tell people to start getting checked out at age 40 because that’s when we started noticing, most of the cases were one to two decades after all the damage took place,” said Blomstedt. “But now with the tanning beds, we are finding it in people in their 20s and 30s.”

Just 20 minutes in a tanning bed, is the equivalent to an hour in the sun.

Blomstedt said that those who are light complected, blonde with blue eyes, green eyes, are at the highest risk and they might notice skin damage earlier.

He said, “The youngest I’ve seen is in their 20s. But I’ve seen it in people who are dark complected, it might be later on, but it does happen.”

The key is to keep your skin protected. Long sleeves, sunscreen and sunblock are all ways to block the sun’s radiation.

When it comes to sunscreen, the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) determines how effective it will work and how often you’ll need to reapply.

Blomstedt said, “The most important thing is to find something that covers both UVA and UVB exposure. That’s new in the last couple of years. It’s been hard to measure the UVA in the past.”

UVA, or Ultraviolet-A, makes up the majority of the solar radiation that reaches the surface of the earth. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB and is present year round during daylight hours. UVB rays, Ultraviolet-B, are shorter and much more intense. These are the rays that cause sunburns and tanning. Both of the rays are responsible for advanced skin aging and the development of skin cancer.

“An SPF of 15 would be effective if you put it on often enough,” said Blomstedt. “The recommendation is an SPF of 30, but no one puts on enough.”

The recommended application is 2 tablespoons, or enough to fill a shot glass, every two hours.

Blomstedt said, “Since nobody does that, I usually recommend an SPF of 50 or 75 and if you put on half of the recommended amount, it should give you an SPF of around 30, but you will still have to reapply every couple of hours.”

When you are going to be out in the sun, swimming, playing or working, Blomstedt recommends that you apply sunscreen to your exposed skin 20 to 30 minutes prior to going outside.

“Your skin needs that time to absorb the sunscreen into the skin for it to actually work,” he said, “If you are heading to the pool or lake, put it on before you leave and be sure to reapply hourly if you are going to be in water or if you are sweating.” If you are planning to go hang out at the pool, it may be best to wait and go a little later in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.

As for waterproof sunscreen, waterproof usually means that it will remain effective for approximately 90 minutes, but even then, Blomstedt recommends sticking to the hourly application just to be safe.

If you will be working outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Blomstedt recommends wearing a long sleeve shirt and a wide-brimmed hat.

He said, “Radiation is worse during this time of day because it is more direct sunlight. One hour in the sun at 9 a.m. is equivalent to 15 minutes at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.”

For those of you who are wondering if there is a safe way to get that golden tan, the doctor’s answer is, “Unless it’s a fake tan, no.” It is the repeated exposure from radiation that causes cells to start reproducing quicker than they are supposed to.

For information on this event, contact Michele Lambert, Clinical Trials coordinator in the Cancer Treatment Center, at 308-630-2429. More information on skin cancer can be found at http://www.skincancer.org/.

For more information, contact Michelle Lambert at 308-630-2429.