Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with one in five Americans developing it over the course of their lives. It’s also one of the most preventable types of cancers. In recognition of May’s Melanoma Monday and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Mount Sinai Health System experts are using new imaging devices to detect early skin cancers, arming the public with vital tips on prevention and offering free skin cancer screenings.
Experts Available for Interview
- Mark Lebwohl, MD, Sol and Clara Kest Professor of Dermatology and Chair of the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Andrew Alexis, MD, Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai West
- Hooman Khorasani, MD, Chief, Division of Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Orit Markowitz, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesions and Skin Cancer, The Mount Sinai Hospital
- Desiree Ratner, MD, Director, Comprehensive Skin Cancer Program, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, and Mount Sinai West
“Fortunately, most skin cancers, even melanoma, can be cured and treated when detected early,” says Dr. Lebwohl. “Knowing your own skin is the key to discovering skin cancer early on. See a dermatologist for a skin check if you notice a spot, mole or lump on your body that is changing, growing or bleeding.”
The Mount Sinai Hospital Offers Two Non-Invasive Imaging Devices to Detect Skin Cancer
The Mount Sinai Hospital is the only clinical site in the United States to offer two non-invasive imaging devices that can evaluate, diagnose and monitor skin cancers. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM) are two technologies that can be used to view cellular structures below the surface of the skin, enhancing diagnostic accuracy of both benign and malignant lesions. These devices are non-invasive and have been shown to reduce the need for biopsy. They are also useful in delineation of surgical margins as well as for long-term monitoring over time.
According to Dr. Markowitz, who uses both devices, non-invasive imaging has dramatically transformed how clinicians evaluate, diagnose, monitor, and treat skin cancer. OCT and RCM are two technologies that are very appealing to patients with skin cancers located on cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face, head, and neck, and can be used to monitor non-invasive therapeutic modalities for tumor shrinkage.
*Skin cancer patients are available for interview.
- Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in men and second fastest growing in women.
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common kind of skin cancer, and if caught early it has a cure rate approaching 100 percent.
- Exposure to tanning beds can increase the risk of melanoma, especially in women under the age of 45.
Tips for Skin Cancer Prevention
- Get an annual checkup: Annual dermatology visits to monitor changes in your skin and your child’s are just as important as annual physicals and regular trips to the dentist. Nearly 50 percent of UV exposure occurs between the ages of 19 and 40.
- Wear sunblock every day: Sunblock is not just for the summer. You should apply an SPF of 30 or more to all exposed skin thoroughly—your body, eyes, lips, ears and feet—every day, year-round. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days.
- Never plan to sunbathe: You might not immediately realize the damage you’re doing by intentionally soaking up the sun, because it takes 10-20 years for skin damage to catch up with you, but sun dissolves the collagen and elastin in your skin that keep it healthy.
- Avoid tanning beds: Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
- Wear protective clothing: Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
- Watch your brown spots and freckles: Do self-skin checks every month. If you have a lot of brown spots, talk to your dermatologist about total body photography so your doctor can keep a photographic record of your moles and watch closely for any change.
- Follow the ABCDEs: Tell your dermatologist if your moles have:
- Asymmetry, where one half of the mole is different from the other half;
- Borders that are irregular, scalloped or poorly defined;
- Color that varies from one area to another, with shades of tan and brown, black, sometimes white, red, or blue;
- Diameters that are the size of a pencil eraser (6mm) or larger; however some melanomas can be smaller
- Evolving, when a mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape and color
Free Skin Cancer Screenings:
- Mount Sinai West, Wednesday, May 25, 5 pm to 7:30 pm at 425 West 59th Street, Suite 8B
- Mount Sinai Skin and Laser Center, Thursday, May 4, 3 pm to 6 pm at 234 East 85th Street, fifth floor
- Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, Thursday, May 11, 5 pm to 7:30 pm, 1090 Amsterdam Avenue, Suite 11D Mount Sinai Downtown Union Square, Wednesday, May 17, 5 pm-7 pm, 10 Union Square East, 3C
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care. The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the “Honor Roll” of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."