South Texas cancer specialist Dr. Eugenio Galindo explains primary risk factors for melanoma, nonmelanoma, and other forms of skin cancer.
From basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin to melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, skin cancer can strike in any one of several forms. With May marking Skin Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, oncologist Dr. Eugenio Galindo offers a closer professional look at the primary risk factors for the disease.
The abnormal growth of skin cells, skin cancer most often develops on skin which is routinely exposed—or has been exposed—to the sun. Sun exposure is not, however, the only risk factor for the disease, and, according to Dr. Galindo, this common form of cancer may also occur on areas of the skin which are not routinely exposed to sunlight.
“While exposure to the sun is among the most significant risk factors for skin cancer, staying out of the sun’s often harmful ultraviolet rays is not the only way to help reduce the risk of developing the condition,” he explains.
Being aware of, and regularly checking for, any changes in the skin can help massively in detecting skin cancer during its earliest stages. “This,” says Dr. Eugenio Galindo, “without a doubt gives skin cancer patients the best possible chance of successful treatment.”
Symptoms and underlying causes of the various forms of skin cancer differ, although many of the risk factors are shared, according to the Rio Grande Valley area oncologist.
These include fair skin, excessive sun exposure, use of tanning lamps and tanning beds, a history of sunburn, living in a particularly sunny or high-altitude climate, and a prevalence of moles on the body. Further risk factors extend to what are known as precancerous skin lesions or actinic keratoses, a weakened immune system, a personal history of skin cancer, a family history of skin cancer, exposure to radiation—including radiation treatment for skin conditions such as acne and eczema—and exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic.
To limit the risk of developing skin cancer, particularly in light of the above, Dr. Galindo recommends avoiding the midday sun wherever possible, wearing sunscreen year-round, avoiding tanning beds, and checking one’s skin regularly. Particular attention should be paid, he says, to the face, neck, ears, scalp, chest, arms, hands, and legs, both front and back, as well as checking for any changes to existing freckles, birthmarks, or moles.
“You must,” he adds, wrapping up, “check your skin regularly, and be absolutely sure to report any noticeable changes, however minor they may seem, to your doctor as a priority.”
National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, overseen by organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Skin Cancer Foundation, runs until the end of May.
Dr. Eugenio Galindo is an experienced physician specializing in oncology, certified through the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Galindo has served in the Rio Grande Valley area for almost 30 years and is an active participant in bringing the latest in cancer treatment and screening to the southernmost tip of South Texas. Fluent in English and Spanish, Dr. Galindo has also authored several influential medical publications on the subject of oncology.