Tag Archives: skin cancer

Op-ed: Let’s practice cancer prevention each and every day

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


What do you do to prevent cancer? February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and a great time to make or renew your commitment to put your health first. Take time to visit your health care professional and discuss your family and personal health history and which cancer screenings are right for you. Screening can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable, and in some cases stop cancer before it starts.

It is estimated that over 589,430 men and women will die in 2015 from cancer — including 34,600 New Yorkers. More than half of cancer deaths — more than 250,000 — can be prevented by taking action that includes getting screened.

Here are a few of the most common screenings to discuss with your health care professional:

• Breast cancer – mammogram
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam done by your health care professional every three years. Women over age 40 should get a mammogram and have a clinical breast exam every year. Those who have a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk and may need to start screening earlier.

• Cervical cancer – Pap smear
Women in their 20s should have a Pap test every three years. It is recommended that women ages 35-64 have a Pap and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) test together every five years. If you have HPV, smoke, use birth control pills or have had multiple sexual partners, you may be at a higher risk and may need to be screened more often.

• Prostate cancer – Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test
At 50, men should talk with their health care professional about whether or not getting screened for prostate cancer is right for you. Men may be at a higher risk if they have a family history of prostate cancer.

• Colon cancer – colonoscopy or stool-based tests
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States. Starting at age 50, it is recommended that men and women of average risk get screened. You may need to start screening earlier if you have a family history of cancer or colorectal polyps, if you smoke or if you are overweight. Talk to your doctor about which screening test is right for you.

• Skin cancer – skin exam
Starting at age 20, have your doctor check your skin annually. Examine your skin at home once a month and tell your health care professional about any changes. You are at a higher risk for skin cancer if you spend a lot of time in the sun or use tanning beds. Always use sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more when in the sun, and avoid the sun at its brightest times.

• Lung cancer – low-dose spiral CT scan
If you smoke or if you have quit smoking, discuss with your doctor whether lung cancer screening is right for you. Men and women are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer if they smoke (or have smoked) or if they have been exposed to second-hand smoke.

• Oral cancer – head and neck examination
As a periodontist and fellow health care professional, I would like to update you on oral cancer. It’s two times as common in men as in women. Tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are important risk factors. However, one in four patients diagnosed with oral cancer will present with no risk factor. Thus, it’s important to see your dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings. Start reducing your risk to by incorporating these healthy eating and exercise tips into your everyday lifestyle.

Dr. Wayne Kye is the spouse of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and a member of Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.


Op-ed: Protect yourself from skin cancer all year long

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Protection Month. It makes sense to focus on skin protection when spring gives way to summer and we spend more time outdoors. While we should be especially vigilant in the strong summer sun, it is also important to remember to protect our skin throughout the year.

Damage can be done in the fall and winter and on cloudy days. Many facial moisturizers are now made with SPF 30 or higher and should be used year-round, along with hats and sunglasses.

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with more than 2 million people diagnosed each year. In 2014, it is expected that 76,100 of new cases will be melanoma skin cancer, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, leading to 9,710 deaths. One person dies from melanoma skin cancer every hour. In New York alone, it is expected that there will be 4,240 new cases of melanoma skin cancer in 2014. People too often don’t realize that melanoma can be deadly or understand that everyone, regardless of age, hair color, race or gender is at risk.

The primary cause of skin cancer is damage from the sun’s UV rays (ultraviolet radiation). Spending time in the sun, tanning or getting sunburned ages your skin rapidly and leads to a higher risk of skin cancer.

Tanning booths, popular among teenagers, produce dangerous UV rays and are especially harmful to those who are younger than 35, increasing their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. One indoor tanning session can increase your risk of melanoma by 20 percent. There is also a higher risk for people who smoke, have fair skin, freckles or light-colored eyes, have a family history of skin cancer or have numerous moles.

Children are especially vulnerable and spend more time outdoors than they do at any other time in their lives. Skin damage at an early age significantly raises the risk of skin cancer later on in life, so it is crucial to be attentive with young people. By practicing sun safety consistently, they will learn habits to use during teenage years and adulthood.

Here are some things everyone — regardless of age — should know:

  • Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest. Even when it is cloudy out, UV rays can still reach the earth’s surface.
  •  Don’t get burned. Always use sunscreen when you are outside. Use at least SPF 30 sunscreen that is UVA and UVB blocking. Apply a palmful to your entire body 20 minutes before exposure, repeating every 2 hours. Do not forget to use SPF lip balm, too — even your lips are sensitive to sun rays.
  • •When you are in the sun, protect your eyes with UV-absorbent sunglasses, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and tightly woven clothing for maximum protection.
  •  Enjoy brief sun exposure of 15 minutes up to 3 days a week to your arms, face and hands. This produces much-needed Vitamin D.

It is also important that your health professional give your skin an annual examination — and that you check yourself monthly. Look for new moles or moles that have changed in size, color or shape. If you find a change in your skin, red spots, have sores that do not heal, or new moles, see your health professional right away.

The power of the sun should not be feared, but it must be respected. Always be cautious when going out in the sun. The preventive steps outlined above are easy and effective. Follow them. Encourage your loved ones to do the same. For more information on skin cancer and cancer prevention, visit preventcancer.org.

Dr. Wayne Kye is the spouse of Representative Grace Meng (NY-6) and a member of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.