Hats Off

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‘Hats off’ an expression used to express admiration for someone who has done something praiseworthy. So, let us take our hats off to thank our local dermatologists who conducted a free skin cancer screening for the public. The dermatologists donated their time and money to provide this valuable service. No medical government agency provided any financial support, additional sponsorship was by the local media and print companies.

Being older than sixty- five I was excited to be screened and was happy to see how many people attended. Over the past thirty years more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. That means that each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. And as we baby- boomers get older more than 50% who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once. But do not think only older people are at risk.

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, accounts for up to three percent of all pediatric cancers. The treatment of childhood melanoma is delayed 40% of the time due to misdiagnosis of dark growth that look like moles. Most melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional sun exposure. So, cover baby’s head when out in the sun. Among adults Melanoma kills an estimated 10,130 people in the US annually. Countries closer to the equator will have greater numbers.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. More than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The warning signs include: open sore that bleeds, a red irritated area, a shiny bump, a slightly elevated pink growth, a scar-like area that is white, yellow or waxy. These five warning signs should not be ignored. BCCs are easily treated in their early stages. The larger the tumor has grown, however, the more extensive the treatment needed. While BCCs seldom spread to vital organs, they can cause major disfigurement and occasionally result in nerve or muscle injury. Certain rare, aggressive forms can be lethal if not treated promptly.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than one million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Squamous cell carcinomas typically appear as persistent, thick, rough, scaly patches that can bleed if bumped, scratched or scraped. They often look like warts and sometimes appear as open sores with a raised border and a crusted surface. People who have fair skin, light hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes are at highest risk of developing the disease. Chronic infections and skin inflammation can also increase the risk to developing squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, immune deficiency diseases, chemotherapy, and there are dozens of medications and over-the-counter drugs that can cause sun sensitivity. Some of the most common include: Antibiotics: doxycycline, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, antidepressants: doxepin (Sinequan); and a herbal supplement that I never recommend, St. John’s wort can cause sun sensitivity.

In our clinic, I diagnose medical conditions that put people at higher risk. Most doctors do not ask for a comprehensive blood test to see how close you are to developing diabetes. Certain types of cancers are more common in people with diabetes. The frequency and risk of developing overall skin cancer, including melanoma, is higher with people with insulin resistance (pre-diabetes). Many doctors check fasting blood glucose, not learning how to connect insulin and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IFG-1) to determine your level of pre- diabetes, insulin resistance.

People with increasing levels of pre-diabetes will develop skin tags around the neck, armpits and groin. A skin tag is a narrow stalk of skin that bulges at the end. Most of the time, skin tags are just unsightly. However, when they appear, it means you are on the road to developing diabetes and when skin tags are twisted, irritated, or bleeding, this might be a good reason to seek medical attention.

Darkening skin on your sides of your face and neck or spots on exposed areas are often sun damage that may not be cancer. However, it may be acanthosis nigricans, which is not a skin disease, but a skin sign of an underlying condition or disease. Besides the development of diabetes, it can reflect kidney problems or colon, or breast cancer. When a patient presents with darkening and thickening of the skin, occurring mainly in the folds of the skin, I make sure not to run a blood test to find any underlying cause.

Get The Point! We have tipped our hat with thanks to those that took the time and effort to screen our community. Now let us put our hats back to protect a little more from the damaging sunlight. Covering up and avoiding the hottest part of the day, may be smarter than chemical sunscreens. And, be careful of the reflection of our beautiful sea even in the shade, when sitting on our white beaches. Prevention is much better than having to be treated for cancer and goes a long way. Come in for a blood test to ensure you are not developing an environment where cancer can grow. Let us help you by identifying chronic inflammation and reducing risk for developing diabetes.q

CARLOS VIANA, Ph. D. is an Oriental Medical Doctor (O.M.D.) having studied in China; a US Board Cert. Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.), an Addiction Professional (C.Ad.), Chairperson of the Latin American Committee of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a Rejuvenating Cell Therapist specializing in Age Management, has a weekly radio program, writes and lectures extensively. For information: VIANA HEALING CENTER, Kibaima 7, St Cruz TEL: 585-1270 Web Site: www.vianaheal.com

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