Monday, July 29, 2013

ABCDEs of Melanoma may not Apply to Children

For decades, dermatologists have cautioned people to watch for moles that have the following characteristics, known as the ABCDE’s of skin cancer: 

  • A - Asymmetrical shape: a shape that is not even
  • B - Border: an irregular border that is difficult to define
  • C - Color: more than one color or an uneven distribution of color
  • D - Diameter: a diameter greater than 6 millimeters
  • E - Evolution: recent changes in color and size

However, one recent study reveals that many young patients with melanoma do not demonstrate symptoms falling within the ABCDE detection criteria.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, studied 60 pediatric patients with melanoma and 10 pediatric patients with ambiguous melanocytic tumors (tumors that contain both benign and malignant melanomas). The patients were put into two groups: Group A was diagnosed before the age of 10, and group B was diagnosed between ages 11 and 19.

Sixty percent of patients in group A and 40 percent in group B did not have conventional ABCDE characteristics of melanoma. Instead, researchers found that the following characteristics were more common: amelanosis (a lack of melanin in the skin), bleeding, bumps, variable diameter, uniform color and de novo moles (moles that are just beginning to form).

In all, 44 percent of the pediatric patients’ skin cancer was unclassifiable using the ABCDE method.

Although these are scary statistics, there are ways to reduce your child’s risk of getting skin cancer. Be sure to slather kids in a UVA- and UVB-blocking sunscreen any time they go outside. Hats and clothing are useful to protect kid’s skin from the sun. Children also need to be checked regularly by a dermatologist. Greenville Dermatology’s new MelaFind machine can help discover irregular moles faster than before. To schedule an appointment with Greenville Dermatology, call us today at (864) 242-5872.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some Tanners Return to Tanning Beds after Cancer


One in seven people returns to the tanning bed after being diagnosed with skin cancer, according to a new study by the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, CT.

Tanning beds are known for increasing a person’s risk of getting cancer, since they emit up to 15 times the ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation of the sun. This type of radiation penetrates to the deep layers of skin and changes the composition of skin cells. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.

"The situation may be analogous to that of lung cancer patients who continue to smoke after diagnosis," said Brenda Cartmel, lead author and a cancer prevention researcher at the Yale School of Public Health. "Just as tobacco is known to be addictive, our research suggests that some patients may become dependent on tanning, with new intervention approaches needed to change these behaviors.”

Twenty million people use tanning beds each year in the United States, and most of the users are young Caucasian females.

The study looked at white patients who had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a slow-growing skin cancer which can be removed but increases the risk for subsequent skin cancers. Cartmel surveyed 178 patients who visited tanning beds before diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma.

Of the 178 people, 26 of them (about 15 percent) said they had returned to the tanning bed at least once in the past year, with some visiting the booth up to 20 times. These people also reported tanning more often before their diagnosis than the rest of the study participants.

More than 50 percent of the tanners reported symptoms of dependence, such as feeling guilty about tanning or needing to tan first thing in the morning, compared to 36 percent of those who had quit tanning after being diagnosed with cancer.

Previous studies have revealed that UV light exposure can be addictive and produces endorphins when skin cells are exposed to UV rays.

No matter what you may hear at tanning salons, the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, lax skin and brown spots), as well as skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Whether you visit the tanning bed or not, getting your skin checked frequently by a dermatologist is essential to your health. Even melanomas are 99 percent curable when caught early. Please contact Greenville Dermatology at (864) 242-5872 to schedule an appointment today. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Greenville Dermatology’s Revolutionary New Acne Treatment

Greenville Dermatology is home to a revolutionary new acne treatment known as TheraClear. TheraClear is the only technology that treats multiple causes of acne in one single treatment, and Dr. Miller is the only dermatologist in the Southeast to own this new, acne-fighting technology.

TheraClear treatment combines a vacuum with broadband light to treat acne and reduce redness almost immediately. The vacuum extracts sebaceous material from skin pores, while the broadband light destroys acne-producing cells and reduces oil production. TheraClear treatment is suitable for patients who want fast results, are resistant to antibiotics or suffer from hormonally induced acne.

  • No pain and no downtime
  • Treatment only lasts 10 minutes
  • Noticeable visible improvement after first treatment
  • Requires no pre-treatment gels or anesthetics
  • Personal treatment insert maintains hygiene and reduces risk of cross contamination
  • Patients no longer have to take acne antibiotics or other medications while receiving TheraClear

Immediate Results:
  • Reduction in redness surrounding legion
  • Drying and flattening of lesions
  • Reduction of skin oiliness
  • Visible reduction in pore size

FDA-approved to treat more types of acne than other treatments:
  • Mild to inflammatory acne (acne vulgaris)
  • Pustular acne
  • Comedonal acne

If you have acne and haven’t found a solution, TheraClear may be for you. Contact Greenville Dermatology at (828) 242-5872 and schedule an appointment to talk to a skincare expert today.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Virtual Skin Model Reveals the Secret to Skin Aging

For hundreds of years, scientists have theorized about how our bodies grow new skin cells and slough off the old. One virtual skin model may reveal the truth about our skin and hold the key to slowing the effects of aging and even preventing skin cancer.

The University of Sheffield partnered with Procter & Gamble to develop a computer model of human skin that captures how the outer layers of skin are developed and maintained over time. This model simulation of skin was used to test popular theories of how skin cells regenerate our skin over a three-year period.

Only one theory enabled the virtual skin to keep regenerating for three years.

"The theory which seems to fit best says that skin has a population of 'sleeping' stem cells, which sit in the lowest layer of the skin but don't constantly divide to make new cells," said Dr. Xinshan Li, University of Sheffield Faculty of Engineering. "However, these sleeping cells can be called into action if the skin is damaged, or if the numbers of other types of more mature skin cells decrease, ensuring that the skin can be constantly regenerated under all conditions."

The model illustrates that we gradually lose sleeping stem cells over time, which is why our skin’s ability to regenerate reduces as we get older.

“Each time we wake up these cells, to heal a wound or replenish stocks of other cells, a few of them don't go back into sleep mode, so the population slowly reduces," said Dr. Li. "This explains why older skin is slower to heal and in part why our skin changes as we age.”

Researchers also found that ultraviolet exposure or chronic wounding can cause sleeping cells to hide the mutations that cause skin cancers.

"The stem cells can harbor mutations throughout the years, but with no effect if they're still in sleep mode," explained Dr. Li. "However, when they start to divide to heal a wound for example, this could trigger the cancer. If it's possible to study this phenomenon for long periods of time it may be possible to find ways to prevent the activation of mutated cells and therefore reduce the risk of developing the disease."

Although this research shows that our ability to regenerate skin cells diminishes over time, there are ways to keep your skin looking youthful and fresh. Greenville Dermatology offers a myriad of services to turn back the years, including chemical peels, intense pulsed light therapy, Juvederm injectables, microdermabrasion and more. Call us today at (864)242-5872 to schedule an appointment and to discuss the best anti-aging option for you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Melanoma on the Rise in Kids

The deadliest form of skin cancer doesn’t usually occur in kids, but according to a new study, rates of melanoma in children are on the rise.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that cause skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. While melanoma in children is still rare, the rate of occurrence has increased approximately 2 percent per year since 1973 among U.S. children from newborns to age 19. Melanoma now accounts for up to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

The study, which was published in the May issue of Pediatrics, found that the biggest jump in melanoma rates was among adolescent girls ages 15 to 19. Researchers also discovered that boys were more likely to have melanomas on their face and torso, while girls were more likely to develop the deadly cancer on their lower legs and hips.

Out of the children diagnosed with melanoma during the study time frame, 93 percent of them were white. Because the number of melanoma cases among other racial groups was so small, researchers focused their analysis on white children.

The scientists used a database to determine these trends in childhood melanoma, but they did not have information on the children’s tanning habits or sun exposure history.

Recent studies have shown that melanoma is increasing among adults as well. Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why, many think increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from both the sun and tanning booths may be responsible. Risks for melanoma among children and adults include fair skin, light-colored hair and eyes, moles, a history of sunburns and a family history of melanoma.

Dr. Amy Forman Taub, a dermatologist in Lincolnshire, Ill., said that tanning behaviors and vacations have a lot to do with the increasing rates of melanoma in both children and adults. Taub also explained that melanoma in children looks very similar to melanoma in adults. Moles that are cancerous often have irregular borders, are asymmetrical (halves are not equal), have an uneven color and a diameter that is larger than 6 millimeters (about one-fifth of an inch).

"Parents should be aware of any new or changing moles in their children," said Taub.

So how can you help protect your kids from developing melanoma? To start, check your child’s moles frequently and don’t ignore moles that appear to be changing. Make sure your kids are wearing sunscreen whenever they’re going to be outside, even if it’s cloudy. It’s important to choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and reapply it frequently. Sun-smart clothing can also help protect children, such as t-shirts and hats.

Don’t forget – children also need to be checked regularly by a dermatologist. Greenville Dermatology’s new MelaFind machine can help discover irregular moles faster than before. To schedule an appointment with Greenville Dermatology, call us today at (864) 242-5872.