The Business of Saving Lives

by Dr. Carl W. Soderstrom
Soderstrom Skin Institute

The earlier skin cancer is detected and treated, the better a patient’s chance for survival.

The World Health Organization has declared a worldwide epidemic in the increases of skin cancer, particularly malignant melanomas. Soderstrom Dermatology Center has found this increasing incidence to be true in the Peoria area as well. In fact, since May of last year, we’ve found an average of approximately one malignant melanoma per day in our offices at Soderstrom Skin Institute.

Increase in Incidence
In April of 2012 Mayo Clinic Proceedings outlined the increasing incidence of malignant melanomas. This article reported that from 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased eight-fold among young women and four-fold among young men ages 18 to 39.

The August 2017 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas are also increasing at an alarming rate. Not only that, the location on a patient’s body of the sites of increasing cancers has been changing over the past couple of decades. In this study, women had the greatest increase in incidence rates for both basal cell and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas.

With regard to location, the study found more basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) on the torso, rather than the head and neck, than what had been seen in the past. BCCs occurred on the extremities more commonly in women than in men.

The study also reported a shift in the most frequent location of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCCs)—from the head and neck to the extremities. Again, women were more likely to have cSCCs on the upper and lower extremities than men.

At Soderstrom Dermatology Center, there has been a 22-percent increase in skin cancers found and treated at the center locally since 2012. In 2016 alone, there was a 14-percent increase in skin cancers and an even higher increase in the number of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) seen. In 2017, this alarming growth has continued, with a 28-percent increase in BCCs and a 37-percent increase in SCCs. Malignant melanomas have increased by 24 percent this year.

Spot It and Stop It
Soderstrom Dermatology Center wishes to remind patients that free skin cancer screenings exist to help protect the public and save lives. With this free service, hundreds of lives have been saved over the years. Our slogan, “if you can spot it, you can stop it,” is truer today than it was decades ago.

Remember the danger signs of moles:
A. Asymmetry (one half unlike the other);
B. Borders irregular (poorly defined borders);
C. Color varied (different color from one area to another);
D. Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser); and
E. Evolving (changing in any way, including itching, bleeding or burning).

Soderstrom Skin Institute has been doing free skin cancer screenings for more than 30 years, during which time we have seen more than 30,000 patients.

Patients should see a dermatologist at their earliest convenience if spots, moles or lesions are changing. In addition, there is strong evidence on higher genetic tendencies for melanoma including: people with a family history of melanoma, upper European heritage, light complexion, blue eyes, people on chemotherapy or who are immunocompromised; and people who have chronic, long-term sun exposure like farmers, sailors, golfers and outdoorsy people.

A practical approach is to avoid the hot midday sun; apply and reapply a strong, broad-spectrum sunscreen every two hours; and wear wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing. iBi

The medical staff at Soderstrom Skin Institute is available for interviews and free presentations on skin cancer, skin cancer surgery, plastic/cosmetic surgery, laser treatment, acne, psoriasis and all diseases of the skin. For more information, call (888) 674-7546.

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