“Obtaining a professional evaluation of lumps and bumps that appear on skin that have slowly appeared over the course of time could be more than the effects of aging,” stated Dr. Moynahan. “They could represent something more insidious and harmful.” Dr. Moynahan explained that skin cancer is epidemic in the United States and “It is in fact the number one cancer affecting Americans today.” She pointed out, “It is also the easiest cancer to cure, if diagnosed and treated early. If allowed to progress, it could result in disfigurement and possibly death.”
The Skin Cancer Foundation (www.skincancer.org) provides a wealth of information on skin self-examination. The Foundation recommends that regular, once-a-month self-examination of skin can alert individuals to changes in skin. They strongly recommend, however, that, “A physician trained and experienced in evaluating alterations in the appearance of skin should perform a yearly examination. A large number of those changes might signal a condition dangerous to one’s health.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. Moynahan explained, “As people age, our genetics or DNA, and life style contribute to unhealthy changes in the skin. Age spots, rough patches, pre-cancerous and cancers lesions are prone to develop over the course of a lifetime. Many of these changes are not threatening however, pre-cancerous and cancerous tumors demand attention.
Good medical practice requires that people should consult with a doctor who is skilled in the diagnosis of benign and malignant tumors of the skin. Good health management must be proactive for the maintenance of vitality and well-being.”
What to Look For:
Recommending a head-to-toe skin examination every month, Dr. Moynahan, and the Skin Cancer Foundation, explained that there are three primary types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Each of these cancers has many different appearances that a qualified physician can quickly detect. They stress that an individual should especially look for change in the skin and not ignore suspicious spots simply because they do not hurt.
“Warning signs to look for,” stated Dr. Moynahan, “include skin growths that increase in size and have the appearance of being pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multi-colored. People should especially look at moles, birthmarks, beauty marks or any brown spot that changes color or texture, is irregular in outline, is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, appears after age 21.” She indicated that two additional warning signs are a spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, erode, scab, crust or bleed, and an open sore that does not heal within three weeks.
With spring’s arrival, Dr. Paula Moynahan offered some important steps for protecting the skin. “Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, it is important not to sit in direct sun but rather to seek out shade wherever available. Avoid getting burned, that is particularly crucial to skin protection. Always apply a sun screen with a SPF that is 15 or greater every day regardless of how much time intended to be spent in sunlight. Sun pours through windows with ease and can be harmful. Take important precautions to reapply sunscreen every two hours and especially after swimming or sweating excessively.”
Dr. Moynahan went on to recommend covering the skin with clothing, wearing wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. “It’s important to avoid tanning, outside or indoors. The unnatural UV rays from a tanning salon are especially harmful and should be avoided completely. Safe tanning is non-existent.”
With new mothers in mind, Dr. Moynahan also stated that, “Newborns are very sensitive to the sun, so it’s extremely important to keep them out of the sun. Any baby over the age of six months should be protected with sunscreens.“
Named in Castle Connolly “Top Doctors in America”, Guide to America’s Top Surgeons, America’s Registry of Outstanding Professions and Strathmore’s “Who’s Who”, Dr. Paula Moynahan is a graduate of the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and serves as Attending Staff Member in Plastic Surgery at that hospital plus St. Mary’s and Waterbury Hospitals in Waterbury. Her professional memberships include the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the Connecticut Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, and she is a past president of the New Regional Society of Plastic Surgeons. She also serves on the Board of Trustees at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
To learn more about skin cancers, and preventative measures, visit Dr. Paula Moynahan’s website, http://paulamoynahanmd.com. Her services can be obtained at her 687 Straits Turnpike office in Middlebury by calling 203-754-4125, and at her Manhattan office at 800 Fifth Avenue, by calling 212-535-0800.