Tag Archive for: skin cancer

Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

Categories: BLOG, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

An epidemic is sweeping our nation – skin cancer is on the rise with over 4 million new cases diagnosed every year in the United States.  The vast majority of these skin cancers are of the basal and squamous cell carcinoma type. These types of skin cancer have an indisputable link with sun exposure. Melanoma type skin cancer is also increasing- this more deadly subtype has both a sun induced and genetic component. As a society, we are now quite conscious about sunscreen. Are there other things we can do to help prevent this epidemic of skin cancer?

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  1. Nicotinamide: Also known as vitamin B3 – nicotinamide has been shown in several trials to reduce the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer. A trial of 386 Australian patients who had more than 8 skin cancers over the past 5 years showed that those who took nicotinamide had a 23% reduction in skin cancers compared to those who took placebo.  Furthermore, those in the nicotinamide group had a 13% reduction in precancerous lesions known as actinic keratoses.  Not only is nicotinamide effective, but it is quite affordable (typically about 6 cents per day) and well tolerated, with no major adverse effects.  Here is a link to a previous Tareen Dermatology blog post on nicotinamide: http://www.tareendermatology.com/cms/2015/06/29/a-pill-today-to-keep-cancer-away/

Photo credit: biophix.com

vegpills-sunburst

  1. Polypodium leucotomos: Also known as the calaguala plant, this product is commercially available in a standardized product called Heliocare. The evidence for this plant extract is that it acts as an antioxidant- protecting the skin against free radical damage that stimulates mutations and skin cancers. Since free radicals also contribute to skin aging, Heliocare is also thought to have a cosmetic benefit!

Photo credit: heliocare.com

 

  1. Milk thistle: Also known as Silybum marianum, this plant is still being studied to reduce skin cancer. In animal studies it does have a protective benefit.  Furthermore, it is safe and inexpensive.

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Photo credit: naturemade.com

At Tareen Dermatology in Roseville, Minnesota we hope that all of our patients both protect their skin with sun protective clothing and sunscreen as well as prevent skin cancer with these great natural strategies!

Tanning-do I need a base tan?

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , ,
Photo courtesy of npr.org

Photo courtesy of npr.org

Spring is one of the best aspects of Minnesota. We all emerge from our winter hibernation to enjoy the warmer temperatures and especially the rejuvenating sunshine. Unfortunately, sun and UV exposure come with risks. Many of my patients comment on their pale legs and skin unaccustomed to sunshine and cannot wait to get that first bit of tan.  Society has conditioned us to think that a tan is healthy, but, in fact, a tan is your skin’s way of trying to protect itself from the harmful effects of UV exposure.

Ultraviolet light is part of the energy emitted from the sun. It is imperative for life on Earth, but can also cause harmful damage when the energy disrupts the normal cells of the body. There are two types of ultraviolet light present in sunlight: UVA and UVB. These cause different effects in the skin because they penetrate to different depths of the skin. UVA rays penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and play a major role in tanning, photoaging (wrinkles, sun spots, broken blood vessels, laxity), and skin cancers. UVB rays can only go into the more superficial layers of the skin. These rays are the main contributor to sun burns and skin cancers, and they also play a role in suntans and photoaging.

UVA rays are the principal player in the tanning process. The skin tans as a way to try to protect us from further sun damage. Think of a tan as your skin putting up little umbrellas to try to keep out more sun rays. This is a highly imperfect system as we can still get lots of sun damage through this tan.

Tanning beds use a concentrated form of UVA that gives you up to 12 times the amount you would get from outdoor sun exposure. This is an efficient way to give you a tan, but also drastically increases damage to the skin and skin cancers. Remember, a tan is your body’s signal that it is being damaged so by the time you tan, a significant amount of harm has already occurred.

Photo courtesy of skincancer.rog

Photo courtesy of skincancer.rog

Because of this concentrated exposure, people who use indoor tanning devices are at an especially increased risk of skin cancers. According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, people who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The younger you are at first use, the higher the risk. Young people who use a tanning bed are at a whopping 75% increased risk of getting melanoma.

Tanning does not protect you the way many people think. Getting a base tan from tanning beds before going on spring break does not help to reduce your risk of sun damage, burns or skin cancers from the sun. In fact, even going tanning a few times a year before spring break, prom or homecoming significantly increases your risk. Going just four times per year during high school/college results in a 15% increased risk of BCC, 15% increased risk of SCC, and an 11% increased risk of melanoma.

photo courtesy of spraytanningtips.com

photo courtesy of spraytanningtips.com

Skin cancer is easily treated when caught early, but can result in significant scarring and disfigurement. Protection and prevention should be a part of your daily routine. Sunscreens with a broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or higher as well as special sun protective clothing are important to limit the amount of UV exposure our skin gets. Especially avoid tanning beds. If you simply must do something with those pale winter legs, opt for a spray tan or self-tanner lotions.

Summer Sun Protection

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

fox9-new-melanoma-increase-dr-tareen-skin-cancerMemorial Day is right around the corner – that means BBQs, swimming and days on the lake will be here before we know it!  There’s no need to compromise your fun or limit outdoor activities, as long as you know how to safely protect your skin while enjoying the Minnesota summer!

The way we look at it, there are two strategies for sun protection (we recommend combining both!)  The first is true sun avoidance; this is wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck, wearing sun protective clothing (more on this below!) and pulling the big umbrella over to cover your picnic table. The second strategy for sun protection is sunscreen.  There are endless options available, so it’s important to know what you should be looking for when buying a sunscreen!

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that is labeled ‘Broad-spectrum’

Tareen Dermatology SilkShade Tinted Sunscreen Dermatology Roseville Twin Cities Minnesota Zinc

SilkShade Broad Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30 is a great natural source of topical Zinc.

(meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays – both of which can lead to skin cancer AND the features of aging skin.)  You should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and labeled as ‘Water Resistant.’  One interesting sunscreen tidbit is that you’ll no longer see ‘waterproof’ on sunscreens – no sunscreen is 100% waterproof and finally the labeling has caught up with this fact!  We recommend applying sunscreen 15 minutes before heading outside and reapplying every 2 hours (more frequently if swimming or sweating!)  

How much sunscreen do you need?  The truth is that less than 50% of people apply enough sunscreen to get the advertised SPF benefit.  For most people, 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is the amount of sunscreen needed to cover the sun-exposed areas of the body.  Don’t forget – you even need sunscreen when it’s cloudy (the UV rays still can get to your skin!)

Baby Kamran is wearing his hat to protect him from the sun

Kamran sporting his new hat and ready for the summer sun!

What about the kids?  It is imperative that children use sunscreen regularly.  Children over 6 months of age should have a physical sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher applied every 2 hours.  Physical sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to actually physically block the UV rays.  These can be purchased in creams, sprays, sticks, even brightly colored formulations that your kids will love.

The sun protective clothing mentioned above is PERFECT for the little kiddos.  Instead of fighting to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, throw on a sun protective rash guard while swimming and they won’t have to worry about creams or sprays to that area while they’re having fun.  Previously difficult to find, these sun protective clothing items can easily be found in most children’s stores – adults can find fashionable sun protective clothing for themselves at many clothing stores, as well as outdoor and sporting stores.  

Tareen Dermatology wishes you a safe, fun, and sun-protected start to your summer!  Happy Memorial Day!

Genetic Testing for Melanoma

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer - Tags: , , , , , , ,
Melanoma Incidence Map Tareen Dermatology Roseville Minnesota Minneapolis St. Paul Twin Cities

Melanoma has a higher incidence rate in Minnesota than you would think (Photo courtesy of EPA.gov)

With the increase in melanoma seen across the world, dermatologists are looking for genetic tests to better identify those at risk for melanomas and other aggressive internal cancers.

According to Dr. Sandy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Dermatology at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland “Identifying the individuals who carry a causal melanoma mutation allows these patients to be screened for other cancers, like ocular melanoma or pancreatic cancer, before those cancers develop.  It is important to catch these cancers at their earliest stages, before they become life-threatening.”

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

Genetic testing is advantageous for melanoma patients as it allows targeted screening and early detection activities. For example:
-Mutation for p16 (cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A) — patients with this mutation carry a 70% lifetime risk of developing melanoma and a 20% lifetime of developing pancreatic cancer.
-Mutation of the BAB1 gene increases the risk for ocular melanoma and mesothelioma (not pancreatic cancer).

 

Patients who are recommended to have genetic testing for melanoma are those that meet the “Rules of Three”
  1.  At least 3 invasive melanomas in blood relatives OR
  2.  At least 3 melanomas in a single individual OR
  3. 3 melanomas in a patient/ family member as well as pancreatic cancer/other high risk cancers within a family(defined as astrocytoma, breast, prostate, ovarian, colon)
The Rule of 3 is just a guideline- if there is melanoma in an individual + a strong family history, please let Dr. Tareen and her colleagues know as we will help navigate the complexities of genetic testing.
The gene panel that is recommended to be checked in these individuals is the melanoma panel of CDKN2A, BAP1, CDK4, MITF, and POT. If the patient meets the “Rules of Three” for melanoma, as well as other cancers then an organ specific panel for breast, colon, ovarian, pancreatic or prostate cancer should also be obtained.
Genetic counselors can order these test. They are incredibly specific and may help save lives. If you or your family members meet any of these melanoma criterion, please let us know and we would be happy to discuss with you at one of our Tareen Dermatology locations in Roseville and Faribault,  Minnesota. We will help facilitate the advanced genetic testing necessary for early detection that may impact not only you, but also your family members.

All About Sunscreen

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , , ,
There are so many options when it comes to picking a sunscreen. You should always be looking for a broad spectrum 30+ SPF.

There are so many options when it comes to picking a sunscreen. You should always be looking for a broad spectrum 30+ SPF.

With our recent beautiful Minnesota weather and summer quickly approaching, we would like to take time to review with our patients the benefits of regular sunscreen use. It is important for everyone to use a daily sunscreen, regardless of your skin color or race. Regular sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime

So what type of sunscreen should I use?

Tareen Dermatology SilkShade Tinted Sunscreen Dermatology Roseville Twin Cities Minnesota Zinc

SilkShade Broad Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30 is a great natural source of topical Zinc.

  • We recommend a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, which means that it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s thickest layer, and unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling, and suppression of the immune system. UVB rays burn the superficial layers of your skin and it plays a key role in the development of skin cancer.
  • Choose a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. While no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of the harmful UV rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, SPF 50 blocks 98%, and SPF 100 blocks 99%. It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs.
  • Look for water resistant products. There is no sunscreen that is completely water proof. Sunscreen manufacturers can use the term “water resistant” if the sunscreen has been proven to remain effective in water for a period of time, usually 40 or 80 minutes. It is important to reapply sunscreen after swimming.
  • We recommend mineral based products that create a physical barrier on the skin. Look for sunscreens containing the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The physical blocking sunscreen offers immediate protection from the sun, as opposed to the chemical based sunscreens that must be absorbed into the skin for 30 minutes prior to going outdoors.
  • A few brands that we like include Elta MD, Tareen Dermatology SilkShade, Vanicream, CeraVe, and Blue Lizard.

When does my sunscreen expire?

We recommend using sunscreen every day when you are outside, even during the winter and on cloudy days, as the sun emits harmful UV rays year-round. If you are using the correct amount of sunscreen every day, a bottle should not last long. That being said, the FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least 3 years. Some sunscreens will have an expiration date, throw it out once the date has passed. Look for visible signs that the sunscreen is no longer good, including obvious changes to color or consistency.

How much do I need to use?

Most adults need one ounce of sunscreen to fully cover the sun exposed skin. This equates to the amount you could hold in the palm of your hand. Most sunscreen bottles are 3 oz in size, so if using the correct amount, a bottle should only last for about 3 applications. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of feet, and scalp if you have thinning hair. Don’t forget about your lips- apply a lip balm with SPF at least 15. Left sided skin cancer is more prevalent due to the sun exposure related to driving. Be sure to take extra precautions to protect your skin while driving.

What should I do if I get a sunburn?

photo courtesy on skinenergizer.com

Photo courtesy skinenergizer.com

We hope that you can avoid getting a sunburn in the first place by wearing proper protection, but in the event of a sunburn, the first thing you should do is get out of the sun and get indoors. Treating the sunburn as soon as you notice it will help to heal damaged skin more quickly. Here are some tips and tricks to soothe and heal the irritated skin:

  • Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. Apply a thick moisturizer to damp skin after showering to seal water into your skin. Using a moisturizer containing aloe vera or soy can help soothe inflamed skin.
  • You can apply a small amount of over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream to areas that are particularly uncomfortable. Avoid applying “caine” products (like benzocaine), as these can further irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reducing swelling and discomfort associated with the burn.
  • Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
  • If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal while taking extra care to protect the sun burned skin. Avoid popping the blister, because the reason it forms is to help heal your skin and protect you from infection. If you develop blistering of the skin, it means that you have a second-degree sunburn.

Melanoma Monday

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer - Tags: , , , , , ,

Today is Melanoma Monday!

moles-atypicalThis is an important day for all of us at Tareen Dermatology, as it gives us the opportunity to remind our patients that although melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, it can be prevented with good sun protection and easily treated when caught early. We recommend that all of our patients have what we refer to as a ‘full body skin exam’ once a year, so that we can monitor your skin for new or changing moles. If you have had a skin cancer previously, we may even recommend that you come in more frequently. During this visual exam, we identify lesions or moles on your skin that should be monitored or removed for evaluation.

So why is it so important to be monitored for melanoma (and other skin cancers)?

The reason we recommend the once year skin exam is because melanoma can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 87,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2017 alone. Although melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer, it is the most common cause of death from skin cancer. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people will die of melanoma in 2017, that’s approximately one person every hour.

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

We don’t share these facts and statistics from the American Cancer Society to scare you; we share them with you to remind you of the importance of regular dermatology visits to screen for melanoma and other skin cancers. Your risk of melanoma can increase due to factors like genetics, history of multiple sunburns and tanning bed use; however, a recent study by The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that the daily use of sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent!

What can you do at home to monitor your skin for melanoma?

Great question! Performing self-checks at home is an important way to catch a new or changing mole. If you notice something new or changing, we recommend scheduling an appointment for evaluation with one of our Tareen Dermatology providers right away.

Here is what we recommend you look for when checking your skin at home – we call this the ABCDEs of Melanoma:

ABCDE of Skin Cancer

ABCDE of Skin Cancer

A – Asymmetry

B – Border Irregularity

C – Color Variation

D – Diameter greater than 6mm

E – Evolving (does that mole look different than it did last year?)

On this Melanoma Monday, please remember to schedule your yearly skin exam at Tareen Dermatology and make a pledge to practice safe sun habits to protect yourself and your loved ones in 2017.

Sunscreen Recommendations

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , , ,
There are so many options when it comes to picking a sunscreen. You should always be looking for a broad spectrum 30+ SPF.

There are so many options when it comes to picking a sunscreen. You should always be looking for a broad spectrum 30+ SPF.

The Spring Break season is upon us and as a board certified dermatologist I am often asked by my patients about what to look for when choosing a sunscreen.

When looking for a sunscreen I always recommend a mineral based product that will create a physical barrier on the skin, particularly sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. In contrast, the chemical based sunscreens (long names include avobenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule, etc.) must be absorbed into the skin to provide sun protection. Also good to know – the mineral sunscreens provide almost immediate protection while chemical sunscreens need to be applied approximately 30 minutes prior to going outside in order to be effective.

Zinc is the only ingredient that I use for my children’s sunscreen. In fact, the FDA recommends zinc as the main sunscreen ingredient for babies.

Zinc alone can be very chalky and white so it is important to look for the words “micronized.” This is a process whereby the mineral particles are made finer and more cosmetically elegant (but does not decrease the sunscreen efficacy).

A few brands that I like: Elta MD sunscreen, Vanicream sunscreen (made in Minnesota!), CeraVe AM, and of course the Tareen Dermatology SilkShade.

A few other good tips to keep your skin safe while enjoying the beautiful weather:

  • Look for broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Sun protective clothing and wide brimmed hats can be stylish and comfortable
  • Do not “lay out” to get a base tan: this only provides an SPF of 4 and falsely makes one think they are protected
  • UV blocking sunglasses and lip balm are imperative (ocular melanoma and lip cancers are on the rise!)
  • Remember, there are statistically more skin cancers on the left side of the face and body due to chronic sun exposure from driving- use extra protection on the left side and think about investing in UV tinted windows
  • Examine your skin head to toe once a month and see your dermatologist yearly for a skin exam

As a board certified dermatologist, I can assure my patients that NOT using sunscreen increases the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.

The key ingredient you should look for in sunscreen is ?

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Skin Cancer, Tips and Tricks - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Tareen Dermatology SilkShade Tinted Sunscreen Dermatology Roseville Twin Cities Minnesota Zinc

SilkShade Broad Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30 is a great natural source of topical Zinc.

Sunscreen and its ingredients are a controversial and personal topic. The media inundates us with mixed messages – at one end berating individuals for not frequently re-applying and on the other end claiming that sunscreen and its ingredients actually CAUSE cancer.

I always strive to be the voice of reason for my Minnesota patients. As a board certified dermatologist, I can assure my patients that NOT using sunscreen increases the risk of skin cancer. However, I agree that constant use of many chemicals MAY (and I stress may) be harmful.

Thus, the key ingredients that I stress for my patients are minerals, particularly zinc oxide. These mineral based sunscreens (which typically contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sit on top of the skin as a shield and protectant from the sun. In contrast, the chemical based sunscreens (long names include avobenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule, etc.) must be absorbed into the skin to provide sun protection. Also good to know – the mineral sunscreens provide almost immediate protection while chemical sunscreens need to be applied approximately 30 minutes prior to going outside in order to be effective.

Zinc is the only ingredient that I use for my children’s sunscreen. In fact, the FDA recommends zinc as the main sunscreen ingredient for babies.

Zinc alone can be very chalky and white so it is important to look for the words “micronized.” This is a process whereby the mineral particles are made finer and more cosmetically elegant (but does not decrease the sunscreen efficacy).

A few brands that I like: Elta MD sunscreen, Vanicream sunscreen (made in Minnesota!), CeraVe AM, and of course the Tareen Dermatology SilkShade.

I hope this sheds light on a confusing topic and encourages more of my patients and friends to safely protect their skin with my favorite ingredient zinc!

 

Startling Rise in US Melanoma Incidence

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Skin Cancer - Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Melanoma Incidence Map Tareen Dermatology Roseville Minnesota Minneapolis St. Paul Twin Cities

Melanoma has a higher incidence rate in Minnesota than you would think (Photo courtesy of EPA.gov)

According to the CDC, a startling increase in the number of cases of melanoma has been seen over the past 30 years. Data shows that from 1982- 2011 the number of cases of melanoma doubled from 11.2 to 22.7 per 100,000 people. The annual incidence is expected to peak at 112,000 new cases of melanoma by 2030.

The survival for those diagnosed with early stage melanoma is good: greater than 90% of those diagnosed with early melanoma are expected to survive 10 years. Unfortunately, the survival rates of those diagnosed with advanced or metastatic melanoma are very poor.  The 10 year survival for stage 4 melanoma is only 10-15%.

There may, however, be many new therapeutic options for the treatment of advanced melanoma that will hopefully improve outcomes. Since 2011, the FDA has approved eight new agents to treat metastatic melanoma.

Still, the main message of melanoma experts is prevention. The earlier an atypical skin lesion is caught and removed, the higher the rate of cure and survival. Please remember to schedule your regular full skin exams and perform self-skin exams monthly.

Our team at Tareen Dermatology is proud to participate in the cure for melanoma at the Twin Cities Miles for Melanoma Walk this year on August 13th. Don’t worry, we’ll be walking with sunscreen!

 

Dr. Tareen’s Personal Experience with Precancerous Moles

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Skin Cancer - Tags: , , , , , ,

Read about Dr Tareen’s personal story about precancerous moles in this month’s edition of the national magazine Marie Claire.com

Mohiba K. Tareen

Minneapolis Dermatologist Dr Mohiba Tareen shares her close call with skin cancer

Dr. Mohiba Tareen shares her story with her close call with cancer

Age at diagnosis: 33

As a dermatologist of Indian descent, Dr. Tareen knew everything there was to know about skin cancer. When an abnormal lesion developed while she was pregnant, she knew to get checked—stat. 

Her story:

“Though skin cancer is rare in my culture, I know that melanoma is one of the most common malignancies found in pregnant women. So when I noticed a new mole had developed on the sole of my foot during my second pregnancy, it was a bit scary. I saw that the mole was growing and quickly had it removed. Luckily, it was detected in the pre-cancer stage—otherwise, it could have caused significant morbidity, as cancer can spread quickly during pregnancy.”

Her message:

“Women with brown skin tones: Even you need regular full-skin checks! I have several patients of color with pre-cancers and skin cancers.”

Click here for the link to the full story (or click on my photo above to take you directly to the magazine article)

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