LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - When I was a kid, we used to think that you had to get a sunburn first to get a base tan for the summer. That's a big reason why a lot of adults today are suffering from melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.
Dr Michelle Tarbox, a Dermatologist and Texas Tech Physician, says she even grew up with the same misinformation.
She says, "any time you get a sunburn or a suntan, our skin is reacting to UV radiation and damage to the nucleic acids that make up our DNA."
As you might guess, she says any exposed skin should be covered with sunscreen. She suggests an SPF of at least 15, but adds that the higher the SPF, the better protection. She also warns that it's important to cover areas that most people forget, like the top of the ears, top of the hands, and the top of the feet. She says it is very common to find skin cancers on the ears of farmers who have suffered a lifetime of sun exposure by working outside.
Regular skin checks are vital, she says. So find a buddy who can help you check your skin every couple months. And don't just look at the moles. Dr. Tarbox says, "A lot of people think that all melanomas come from a preexisting mole but in fact only about 30 percent do. 70 percent arise as we call "des nouveau", a new spot that comes up on its own."
Here is her brief list of what you and your buddy should check in a skin screening, "Look for any spots that are new or changing, any sore places that won't heal, any place that has multiple colors, and any spaces that have a new symptom - itching, bleeding or pain."
Professional skin cancer screenings are important too.
That's why the dermatology department at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is sponsoring a FREE skin cancer screening Saturday, May 12th, at the Southwest Cancer Center on the East side of University Medical Center.
Ever wondered what happens when you go in for a skin screening?
What clothes do you take off, if any?
What kind of privacy will be available?
And will there be a doctor there to check me – or someone else?
Dr. Michelle Tarbox answers all those questions in the full interview provided here.