Providers Weigh In: Kick off Your Sun-Smart Summer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Michael Warso surgical oncologist
Maria Tsoukas, MD, PhD

Michael Warso surgical oncologist
Michael A. Warso, MD
Surgical Services

After a winter filled with bone-chilling temperatures, high winds, and snow storms, Chicagoans eagerly await  warm temperatures and sunny days. But exposure during the summer months can be just as dangerous as the winter.

"While summer kicks off the warmer months, it is important to acknowledge that the damaging effects of the sun can have an impact every month of the year, says Dr. Michael Warso, a surgical oncologist at UI Health. "Regardless of whether it's a beautiful sunny day or dreary cloudy day, your skin needs to be protected."

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Approximately 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are treated each year, and more than 70,000 melanomas are diagnosed yearly. In 2018, it is estimated that 9,320 people will die of melanoma. Yet when caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.

“You may love the sun — but sunscreen remains your best friend for all seasons,” says Dr. Maria Tsoukas, head of the Department of Dermatology at UI Health. “Annual full-body skin check is standard of care for everyone above the age of 20. However, in the specific cases — like personal or family history of melanoma or chronic immunosuppression — close monitoring is even more fundamental, and the American Academy of Dermatology is providing useful resources for patient education and access to board-certified dermatologists.”

Start with prevention. UI Health is one of only a few centers in the Chicago to provide state-of-the-art technology for mole mapping, digital mole analysis, and archiving. This innovative technology magnifies suspicious lesions to help physicians determine whether biopsy is needed.

Specialists at UI Health have combined their renowned skin cancer expertise with the latest digital technology to identify and treat skin cancers before they can become life threatening.

Understanding prevention and symptoms increase your chances of early detection. Improve your skin care routine this summer with the following tips:

  • Regularly use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or greater throughout the year.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • Seek the shade when appropriate.
  • Protect children from the sun.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand, which can reflect the sun's rays.
  • Do not use tanning beds
  • Be aware of your medications.
  • Obtain special protection if immunosuppressed.
  • Get annual mole checks.
  • Avoid sunburn.