As part of our multimedia, Facing Cancer Together project, witf's Megan Lello spoke with Dr. Lidia Schapira, an oncologist serving as an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, about how to protect from sun damage:
Cancer patients that are taking certain antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs may have an increased sensitivity to sunburn. It is recommended that cancer patients stay covered up with clothing and sun block. Wearing an SPF of 30 and reapplying often is a good idea, as well as avoiding peak hours for the sun (10-2, or 10-4, depending on where the person lives).
And if a patient’s had radiation treatment, skin over the area of radiation may be more sensitive and more likely to burn. Therefore, patients should protect those areas by covering up skin. The sun can also darken surgical scars, so covering up is key.
Some patients may experience hot flashes as a side-effect of some hormone-based cancer treatments. Hot flashes are an uncomfortable sensation, especially in the hot summer months. So, it’s important to stay comfortable by staying hydrated with enough fluids, wearing comfortable clothing and avoiding peak hours for sun.
The American Cancer Society shares the following tips for preventing skin cancer:
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on a generous amount of sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating
- Slap on a hat, especially one with a wide brim
- Wrap on sunglasses
Other related stories and information about sun safety and skin cancer:
- Skin cancer, sunscreen and UV safety
- 7 tips to keep your baby safe in the summer sun
- Skin cancer, minorities at risk, and summer safety
- Know how to prevent melanoma
- Learn about a new melanoma discovery
- Bev Centini's melanoma survivor story
In an Expert Journal Blog called "Skin Cancer: Warning Signs and Prevention," Dr. Mary Simmonds, a medical oncologist in practice with Andrews & Patel, P.C. wrote:
Melanoma develops in an existing mole and there are warning signs to be recognized:
A- A mole is normally round and symmetrical. Melanoma grows erratically and one side of the mole can grow larger, making the mole appear ASSYMETRICAL.
B- The edge of a mole is normally smooth and round. As a melanoma changes over time, theBORDER of the mole starts to appear irregular.
C- The COLOR of a mole is normally even across the surface of the mole. Melanomas often change color from brown to black, red, purple and even lose color.
D- The DIAMETER of a mole is similar to the size of a pencil eraser. Melanomas grow wider.