Preventing Skin Cancer

How to Treat

Preventing skin cancer

Sun protection through the daily application of broad spectrum sunscreen is imperative to the prevention of skin cancer. The myth that sun protection only needs to be utilized when spending long periods outdoors or during peak hours is just that, a myth. Although UVB rays do peak between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., UVA rays remain constant throughout the day and are able to penetrate windows, clouds, and clothing. In addition, UV radiation is emitted from fluorescent and halogen bulbs found in most offices and homes. It is for this reason that everyone must wear sunscreen everyday regardless of the amount of time spent outdoors.

Consumers are often not aware that the sun protection factor (SPF) label only indicates the amount of UVB protection provided by a product. Certain ingredients must be utilized in order to receive UVA protection as well. In order for a product to provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or ecampsule (Mexoryl™) must be included. Extremely high ratings of SPF can also be deceiving, as SPF protection does not increase proportionally with an increased SPF number (e.g. an SPF 15 sunscreen protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation, an SPF 30 sunscreen provides 97% protection and an SPF 65 provides approximately 98% protection). There are no sun protection products that block out 100% of UV rays. Unfortunately, higher SPF products can be less cosmetically elegant and could decrease patient compliance. Some ingredients are more stable than others, although all sunscreens break down over time regardless of water resistance, SPF rating, or ingredients used. Sunscreen products should be reapplied every two hours and following swimming or vigorous activity. As skincare professionals, it is important to educate our patients on the importance of adequate daily sun protection.

Ultraviolet rays are measured in nanometers. The higher the number of nanometers, the deeper through the Earth’s atmosphere they travel. All PCA SKIN® broad spectrum SPF products provide hydration and UV protection against 270 – 400 nanometers (NM), the entire range of the UVA and UVB rays that reach the Earth. Each sunscreen is formulated to be cosmetically elegant. PCA SKIN® offers multiple options to suit a variety of skin types and conditions. These broad spectrum SPF products not only protect the skin from UV exposure, but they also promote daily use:  

  • Active Protection Body Broad Spectrum SPF 30: Specially formulated for protection at the beach, on the slopes, or anywhere in between, this water-resistant SPF is perfect for an active lifestyle. Additional active ingredients help protect skin from aging pollutants and other environmental stressors.
  • Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45: This broad spectrum sunscreen provides unsurpassed UVA/UVB protection with the ultra-sheer technology of zinc oxide and a blend of additional UV-absorbers. Its unique quick-absorbing and light finish makes Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 ideal for patients with oily or breakout-prone skin and those who dislike the feel of traditional sunscreen products. All PCA SKIN® broad spectrum SPF products also provide multiple antioxidants to fight the free radical damage caused by UV exposure and have been awarded The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation for Daily Use or Active Use.

  • Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50+: Defend against UVA/UVB rays with this SPF 50+ sunscreen. Additional active ingredients help protect skin from free radical damage. Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ is ideal for those with normal to oily skin types in need of daily hydration.

  • Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30: This nourishing moisturizer with SPF is formulated with an outstanding blend of UV protecting ingredients, including ultra-sheer zinc oxide, an effective barrier that provides superior broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It is specifically formulated for dry or dehydrated skin.

  • Active Broad Spectrum SPF 45: Water Resistant: This revolutionary formulation provides water-resistant broad spectrum protection with a light finish. The superior blend of UVA/UVB protecting sunscreen agents, including ultra-sheer zinc oxide, provides superb sun-shielding benefits. Tested to protect for 80 minutes in water, it is the perfect choice for an outdoor lifestyle.

  • Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45: This universally-tinted broad spectrum sunscreen provides UVA/UVB protection in a purely physical formula. This formula smooths the skin’s tone and texture outdoors and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

In addition to daily sunscreen products, wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses can significantly increase protection from UV exposure. Sunglasses should have specific UV coating to ensure adequate protection, and hats should be wide enough to provide shade for the entire face, ears, and neck. Certain companies have developed protective clothing and detergents that provide UV protection. Even wearing darker rather than lighter-colored clothing will increase the amount of protection.

Antioxidants are molecules that are able to slow or prevent the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation produces free radicals, which trigger a chain reaction in the body that damages cells, potentially leading to skin cancer. Multiple studies have been conducted regarding the protective benefits of topical antioxidants, and results indicate that the addition of antioxidants to daily sunscreen usage may play an important role in skin cancer and photoaging prevention. Those antioxidants that have demonstrated not only radical scavenging capabilities, but also chemo-protective activity include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea, resveratrol from grapes, genistein from soy, caffeine, and silybin from milk thistle, which also may be particularly beneficial for the skin cancer patient.

Early detection is key to the prevention of metastasis in every type of skin cancer. Self inspections should be performed monthly and should include examination of the face, scalp, torso, back, arms, hands, legs, feet, and nails. The presence of any new growth or formation should be reported to a physician immediately. In addition to self examinations, yearly visits to a dermatologist should be scheduled for a thorough, full-body exam. Aestheticians should develop a relationship with a trusted dermatologist close to their facility and a mutual referral process for their clients. Until skin cancer affects a patient personally or someone close to them, they may not understand the importance of prevention and detection. Education is the most valuable tool the skincare professional can provide. If at any time a patient has any type of questionable lesion, immediately refer them to a dermatologist for evaluation and, if necessary, treatment.

If a lesion appears suspicious to a physician, they will remove a portion and perform a biopsy. If skin cancer is diagnosed, there are several available treatment methods and the physician will choose the most appropriate option for each individual case based on the type of tumor and its location. Treatment options include electrodesiccation and curettage (burning and scraping off the tumor), topical chemotherapy, and several different methods of surgical excision.

Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the most effective treatment method for cosmetically sensitive areas, with the highest cure rate of up to 97% and least likely to scar. Mohs surgeons are highly trained and remove as little tissue as possible, testing each layer for malignancies and halting surgery once the tissue is tumor-free. Once the tumor has been completely removed, cosmetic reconstructive surgery can be done.