(BPT) - This summer, as more Americans become vaccinated and temperatures rise, you may be ready to break quarantine and head outside. But this year, it’s more important than ever to remember to prioritize your skin’s health.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found the total number of skin cancer diagnoses in 2020 was lower than the previous year. However, during this time, skin cancer wasn’t going away — it just wasn’t detected.
"Due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19, many people understandably delayed getting regular healthcare checkups, including skin cancer screening," said Russell Akin, M.D., a dermatologist at Midland Dermatology in Midland, Texas. "It’s actually far more likely that cases of skin cancer are continuing to increase, as they have in recent decades."
The diagnosis and treatment of the most common type of skin cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), increased by 77 percent between 1994 and 2014 in the U.S., according to the National Skin Cancer Foundation. The good news is, the two most common forms of NMSC, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly treatable if detected early and treated properly.
Here’s what you need to know about skin cancer screening this year:
1. Surgery may not be the only option
"If you’re hesitant to get a skin cancer screening because you’re afraid you may need to have a spot surgically removed, it may be reassuring to know that there is a painless, non-invasive and highly targeted treatment for NMSC," said Dr. Akin.
While surgery remains one of the most common ways to remove some skin cancers, it may not be the only option. An advanced treatment called Xoft® Skin eBx uses the world’s smallest X-ray source to deliver a precise dose of low energy X-ray therapy directly to the tumor, while sparing healthy tissue. The Xoft System is FDA-cleared for the treatment of cancer anywhere in the body, including NMSC.
Treatment with Xoft Skin eBx is painless and can be delivered right in the dermatologist’s office, in a series of short sessions lasting just minutes each.
"Xoft Skin eBx allows patients to get back to daily activities faster, with minimal side effects, and excellent cosmetic outcomes," said Dr. Akin. “Additionally, the Xoft system is easy to use, small enough to roll from one room to another, and only uses a very low dose of radiation that is highly targeted for only the specific area needing treatment."
Patient candidates include people who have NMSC lesions located in areas, such as the face, scalp, nose, ears, eyelids, arms and legs, or other areas that may be difficult to heal. This treatment also may be a viable option for patients on blood thinners or for whom surgery is not an option or preference.
If you have been diagnosed with NMSC, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for nonsurgical removal with the Xoft System.
2. Early detection means more effective treatment
According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, damage from sun exposure is cumulative, meaning exposure as a child and young adult can emerge decades later as pre-cancer and cancer. But the sooner your dermatologist identifies the potential presence of skin cancer, the better.
"Early treatment, before the cancer has a chance to spread, means it is far more likely you will have a positive prognosis," Dr. Akin added.
3. You may not be able to see the signs
Skin cancer can potentially be located on your back or other locations difficult for you to see. Therefore, it’s best to have an assessment by your primary healthcare provider, who can refer any areas of concern to a dermatologist. Medical professionals are trained to spot signs of skin cancer, and with regular screenings they can also tell if any moles or other spots on your skin are changing over time.
"If you’ve been putting off making an appointment to have your skin checked, today is a good day to set up this crucial exam with your doctor," added Dr. Akin.
To learn more about Xoft Skin eBx, visit www.xoftinc.com.