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Skin Cancer Facts

Dr. John B. Harris, located in Ponte Vedra Beach, offers facelift, eyelid and skin cancer surgery

Frequent skin cancer screenings and a biopsy can detect Melanoma cancer and other skin cancers early. Skin cancer prevention and early detection is a lifelong effort. Skin cancer surgeon John B. Harris, MD, and Florida Facelift and Skin Cancer Center share with patients the importance of these skin checks regularly.

How do you prevent skin cancer?

The incidence of skin cancer is reaching epidemic proportions in our general population. Not only is it rising in our senior patients, but it is also rising in patients who are in their early 30s and 40s. Unlike other multifactorial cancers, some skin cancer is directly linked to ultraviolet sun exposure, and preventive measures are beneficial. We recommend:

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or higher 
  • Make sure it includes both UVA and UVB coverage
  • An SPF 15 sunscreen can be as effective as a higher SPF number sunscreen if applied more frequently 
  • Wear clothing that prevents skin exposure during outside activity
  • The most harmful effects of ultraviolet sunlight occur during 10 am and 6 pm
  • Wear a good protective layer of clothing during this period
  • Avoid the use of indoor tanning salons
    • Indoor tanning delivers harmful ultraviolet light
    • Ultraviolet light is directly associated with the development of skin cancers including Melanoma, which may be life-threatening
  • Have your skin examined regularly for premalignant lesions and skin cancers
  • Remove premalignant lesions, which may develop into skin cancer

A program of early biopsy and removal of suspicious premalignant lesions perhaps is the best way to minimize the impact of skin cancers in our lifetime. We recommend a:

  • Yearly skin cancer screening, even if you have been skin-cancer free 
  • A six-month screening if you have experienced skin cancer

FFSCC founder John B. Harris, MD, MBA, FACS, offers these skin cancer facts provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Each year in the U.S., nearly five million people are treated for skin cancer
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime
  • Between 40% and 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have either BCC (basal cell carcinoma) or SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) at least once
  • Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the U.S.; BCCs are rarely fatal but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow
  • SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer; it is estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
  • The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma has been rising and increasing to 200% over the past three decades in the U.S.
  • Actinic keratosis is the most common precancerous SCC lesion; it affects more than 58 million Americans
  • Approximately 65% of all SCC and 36% of all BCC arise in lesions that previously were diagnosed as actinic keratosis
  • About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet UV radiation from the sun
  • One person dies of Melanoma approximately every hour 
  • An estimated 106,210 new cases of invasive Melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021, per the National Cancer Institute
  • An estimated 9,940 people will die of Melanoma in 2021
  • Melanoma accounts for less than 2% of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths 
  • Of the seven most common cancers in the U.S., Melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing; between 2000 and 2009, incidence climbed 1.9% annually
  • About 86% of Melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun
  • Survivors of Melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new Melanoma
  • Melanoma accounts for 6% of cancer cases in teens 15-19 years old
  • From ages 15 – 39, men account for just 40% of Melanoma cases, but more than 60% of Melanoma deaths
  • Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and seventh most common for females
  • Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing Melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer
  • The majority of people diagnosed with Melanoma are white men over age 50
  • Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a proven human carcinogen
  • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning and sunburn than develop lung cancer because of smoking
Dear Dr. Harris, Thank you for the wonderful surgery that was done for me. Dr. Harris, you are the most wonderful surgeon that I have ever had the privilege to meet, and care for me as a patient.
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