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Winning the fight against skin cancer – Ogden Clinic provided source, BrandView 2/20/2015

(KSL BrandView) OGDEN – By Dr. Michael Hadley, Dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon

One of the best parts of living in Utah is enjoying the great outdoors. From hiking and biking in the summer to skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, it's easy to see why so many enjoy the amazing recreation opportunities our state has to offer year-round. But did you know that enjoying the great outdoors in Utah could prove costly, or even deadly?

When it comes to skin cancer , Utah is "the perfect storm" thanks to our high altitude, UV index and more days of sunshine than other states. Whether it's winter or summer, it's important to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays, and get to know your dermatologist.

With one of the highest skin cancer rates in the country, it's also important for Utahns to be prepared with the knowledge and tools to treat and fight this disease. Here are some skin cancer basics that can help keep you and your family safe:

Types of skin cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma

The great news about Basal Cell Carcinoma is that it is easily treated if found early. This type of cancer may be white, pink or red and can show up as bumps or patches on your skin. Basal Cell Carcinoma may also cause sores that don't ever seem to heal and they may keep coming back.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer can manifest as a rough patch or can even look similar to a wart. It can also be treated easily with early detection and diagnosis.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and according to the Utah Cancer Action Network, "Utah has one of the two highest rates of new melanoma skin cancer cases in the country." This type of cancer can take on several shapes and appearances and is usually a dark brown, black or bluish color.

Prevention

One of the best things you can do to prevent skin cancer is wear sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide every day (even when it's cloudy), cover up or seek shade when you are outside and make sure you don't forget to have your yearly skin check.

Skin cancer will affect one in five Americans, according the American Academy of Dermatology , and even though a skin check may sound like a daunting procedure, it is a quick and simple visual screening that is your first line of defense against skin cancer.

Another important thing you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer is keep track of your moles and freckles and follow the ABCD rule to look for:

A) Asymmetry - Is part of your mole a different color than the other half? B) Border - Is the border of your mole irregular or "notched" and blurry? C) Color - What is the color of your mole? Do you see multiple shades of black, red or tan? D) Diameter - How big is your mole? Is the diameter larger than six millimeters?

If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, catching it early will ensure the best treatment options possible, including Mohs surgery . With the innovative Mohs technique unlike other methods including excision that evaluate less than five percent of the margins, your dermatologist is able to see 100 percent of the tissue margin.

This enables the Mohs surgeon to track out and accurately remove all of the skin cancer layer by layer leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. In doing the careful analysis of properly performed Mohs surgery, cure rates approach 100 percent.

Additionally because Mohs surgery minimizes removal of normal healthy tissue, reconstruction is generally far less complicated. The reconstruction typically is performed the same day all with local anesthesia.

It is important that your Mohs surgery is performed by someone who is properly trained, having completed a 1-2 year Mohs fellowship. Abbreviated programs in Mohs surgery do not provide the same level of training as a dedicated fellowship similar to going to one day of Cessna training when trying to pilot a 747. You want someone who has the right training. Physicians who have completed this fellowship can be found here.

If you find a suspicious mole or mark on your skin, don't wait to make an appointment with a board certified dermatologist. He or she will be able to quickly diagnose the problem and ensure that you get swift and thorough treatment if necessary.

Caught early, skin cancer is highly curable and even if that spot ends up being nothing, you'll have the piece of mind that you are cancer free.

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