During the hot summer months, there is an unspoken tradition in the media to ramp-up the discussion about skin cancer. This normally results in a “copy-and-paste” frenzy, where most articles can be summarized by the following statement: sunbathing causes skin cancer, so this article will tell you how to enjoy the summer as safely as possible. These kinds of articles tend to be redundant, offering the same advice such as “stick to the shade,” “wear a hat,” and the classic, “sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!” In the nursing and rehabilitation home industry, there tend to be many residents who are either being treated for skin cancer, or who have survived it. I recently had a chance to speak to an expert on the topic, who was able to spread light on some of the myths surrounding skin care and cancer prevention.
Doctor Jeffrey Rapaport MD, PA served as both the head of Dermatology and the director of the skin cancer program at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck for six years, where he now serves as the Emeritus Head of Dermatology. He is listed in Castle Connelly as a TOP New York Doctor as well as a top Beauty Doctor by Savvy Magazine. He also founded The Cosmetic Skin & Surgery Center in Englewood Cliffs. Doctor Rapaport is interested in letting people know more about the lesser-known facts concerning skin cancer, and loves shedding light on the dangers that people usually aren’t quick to discuss.
Dr. Rapaport cautions his patients not to mistake “tanning well” for a special God-given exemption from skin cancer. “Interestingly enough,” Rapaport says, “we frequently find that people who tan well don’t get tested as much as they should.” He continued, “Although people with pastier complexions are more at-risk to get basal cell carcinomas and similar cancers, people who tan well are equally at risk to develop melanoma.” According to Rapaport, “tanning well,” isn’t really a factor that should be considered strongly, even though many people consider that trait to be a protective weapon against developing skin cancer. The more important factors in an individual’s skin health seem to be connected to family history and genetic makeup, which shows that it’s always important to know about your parents’, and even your grandparents’, skin conditions.
Another misconception many people have is that any sun protection factor above 30 is equally as effective, and that an SPF of 45, for example, is the same as an SPF of 60. This is not the case. Doctor Rapaport contends that it actually would be more effective to use a higher SPF. Most individuals utilize small doses (for example, not your entire palm-full) and therefore need the higher SPFs to adequately protect themselves. Sounds like a good motto to remember is “more is more.”
Lastly, Rapaport confirms that all of the information in those bland, reposted articles about Skin Cancer tends to be true. He said, “yes, of course we know sunbathing is bad, and we also know that in the summer months you should stick to the shade and use sunscreen. If you have a blotch on your skin with an abnormal, or even a relatively new normal-looking shape, have it checked out. But sometimes knowing the basics is not enough. Sometimes you have to take a few extra steps.”