Recent Blog Articles

Skin Cancer Archive

Articles

Better way to apply sun screen

Updated June 1, 2012

A Harvard expert says most people don't use enough.

If your summer reading list usually includes mysteries and the latest bestsellers, think about adding this selection: the label on your next bottle of sunscreen.

A lifetime in the sun? You can still cut your risk

Updated June 1, 2012

Minimize the chance of melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, with smart sun protection habits and regular checks for worrisome moles.

Have you had a bit too much sun for your own good? Decades of boating, fishing, hiking, golfing, and just plain drowsing on the deck contribute to your lifetime exposure and risk of developing skin cancer. But there are simple steps you can take now to reduce your risk and catch worrisome skin blemishes before they turn into a threat—particularly malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Ask the doctor: Seborrheic keratoses

Updated May 1, 2011

Q. I have a bad case of seborrheic keratoses on my back and chest. What can you tell me about this skin problem?

A. These growths on the skin can be unsightly and get irritated and bleed, but seborrheic keratoses (pronounced seb-o-REE-ik ker-ah-TOE-sees) are very common and noncancerous. Typically, they start as small yellow or tan bumps and then gradually turn dark brown or black and develop a wartlike surface. They appear most often on the face, shoulders, chest, and back. Seborrheic keratoses are usually a little bit raised, so they look like they've been stuck on the surface of the skin. Some Africans, African Americans, and other dark-skinned individuals get a variant of the condition called dermatosis papulosa nigra, which consists of many black lesions on the cheeks.

What to do about dry skin in winter

Updated February 1, 2011

At this time of year, hands may be red, rough, and raw, and skin may feel itchy and uncomfortable.

Dry skin occurs when skin doesn't retain sufficient moisture — for example, because of frequent bathing, use of harsh soaps, aging, or certain medical conditions. Wintertime poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Fortunately, there are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to relieve winter dry skin, also known as winter itch or winter xerosis.

By the way, doctor: Is a tanning bed safer than sunlight?

Updated September 1, 2009

Q. Does tanning in a tanning bed cause less damage than natural sunlight?

A. It doesn't matter whether you get it from the sun or from artificial sources such as sun lamps and tanning beds — ultraviolet (UV) radiation is linked to skin cancers (including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma) and to other sorts of skin damage, particularly premature skin aging (photoaging).

What to look for in sunblock

Updated June 1, 2009
Good sun protection lotion starts with the SPF. Dr. Clarissa Yang explains what to look for in sunblock and how those ingredients work to protect your skin.

How to check for skin cancer

Updated June 1, 2009
If you want to check for skin cancer, begin by watching for any changes in your moles. Dr. Clarissa Yang explains how to check your moles from A to E. Watch to learn more.

Should I use tanning lotion?

Updated June 1, 2009
Before you head to the tanning salong, Dr. Clarissa Yang gives her recommendation about using tanning lotion. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of this sunless solution. Watch now.

Recognizing and treating basal cell carcinoma

Updated May 1, 2006

It's the most common skin cancer and the least dangerous — but it's far from a trivial matter.

With summer around the corner, our thoughts and plans naturally turn to outdoor activities and the opportunity to bask in the warmth of the sun. But there's a dark side to the time we spend in the sun — it's called a tan. Despite its association with prosperity, good looks, and good health, a tan in reality is a sign that the sun has damaged the skin cells. For some people, such damage can result in skin cancer. The sun is the chief cause of more than 1.3 million skin cancers each year in the United States.

Recognizing and treating basal cell carcinoma

Updated May 1, 2006

It's the most common skin cancer and the least dangerous — but it's far from a trivial matter.

From the Harvard Women's Health Watch, May 2006

With summer around the corner, our thoughts and plans naturally turn to outdoor activities and the opportunity to bask in the warmth of the sun. But there's a dark side to the time we spend in the sun — it's called a tan. Despite its association with prosperity, good looks, and good health, a tan in reality is a sign that the sun has damaged the skin cells. For some people, such damage can result in skin cancer. The sun is the chief cause of more than 1.3 million skin cancers each year in the United States.

There are three main types. Melanoma is probably the most familiar — not because it's common but because it's so deadly. It accounts for only 4% of skin cancers but 75% of skin cancer deaths. A second type, squamous cell carcinoma, occurs three times more often than melanoma. Although it's less serious, it can metastasize and cause extensive damage. About 3%–4% of people with squamous cell carcinoma die from the disease.

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