Sunshine State Safety

Florida has long been nicknamed ‘The Sunshine State’, and we all know why- blazing sunshine and temperatures into the 90’s almost all year round. As many Floridians say to their Northerner relatives and friends, “We live where you take vacation!” Living in Florida, however, makes us Floridians extremely prone to many types of skin cancer as we are constantly exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. As we age, the likelihood to be diagnosed goes up as sun exposure has a cumulative effect on the skin. More days at the beach translate into more exposure to harmful rays.

Dr. Chris Balamucki, a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of NFRMC.

Dr. Chris Balamucki, a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of NFRMC.

Dr. Christopher Balamucki is a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional Medical Center. Balamucki received his Medical Degree at Wake Forest School of Medicine and completed his Radiation Oncology Residency at the University of Florida. While he is dedicated to treating patients with various kinds of cancer, his passion is sharing information wherever and whenever he can about how to prevent cancer. In a recent talk at The Village Retirement Community in Gainesville, Dr. Balamucki was able to offer a lot of information on different types of skin cancer, how to recognize and treat it and, most importantly, how to prevent it. Attendees said they learned a lot from Dr. Balamucki. Here is some of what he shared with them.

Give Me the Stats.With more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed in over 2 million people per year, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. To break that down- roughly 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed in their lifetime, according to Dr. Balamucki. The cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined are still less than those of skin cancer! This large amount of cases may be in part because of the wide range of skin cancers that exist, which range in commonality and aggressiveness. Dr. Balamucki discussed these cancers in the order from most to least common: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

balamucki-presentation

Identifying and Treating.Dr. Balamucki offered up a great recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation: do a routine monthly self-examination. In doing a self-examination, you will be able to identify new or changing skin lesions and promptly schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. It is important to do this because it can help you catch skin cancer at its early stages, and early skin cancers have a 90 to 95 percent cure rate. After you see your dermatologist, the doctor will assess the skin lesion and determine if it can be treated there or if you need to go to a Radiation Oncology clinic for treatment. Dermatologists have many forms of treatment. After a shave biopsy is completed, a dermatologist can perform one of many treatment options. If there is potential for a poor cosmetic result of the surgery or if the dermatologist is not able to completely remove the skin cancer, which is when the patient will typically be referred to a Radiation Oncologist.

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prevention is the Name of the Game. With so many different types of skin cancer, it is so crucial to do everything you can to prevent a possible diagnosis. Obviously, living in Florida makes it almost impossible to avoid sun exposure completely. However, if you can, try to limit your exposure. If you’re at the beach, spend some time in the sun but take a break and sit under an umbrella for a while. When you know you will be in the sun, wear at least 30 SPF and constantly reapply it. Lastly, avoid tanning beds! They are extremely harmful and have been linked strongly to skin cancer. So as a Floridian, it is important that as we enjoy the year round sunshine, we make sure that we take all the precautions to keep our skin safe and healthy!

Just One Thing – Let’s Talk Skin Cancer

One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun. That’s a pretty difficult task for us Floridians, though. Even when we’re not baking in the sun, we expose ourselves to its harmful rays every day – even on days like today when there are tons of clouds in the sky!

Staying out of the sun is difficult for everyone, not just Floridians. And that’s probably why more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over 2 million people are diagnosed annually.

It’s scary to think about, but it’s too scary not to think about. If you’d rather not be a part of those numbers, join us on July 21 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for our next Healthy Aging program at The Village. Radiation Oncologist Dr. Christopher Balamucki will explain everything from prevention to early diagnosis to treatment trends. Visit the events section of our website to learn more.

If you’re jumping out of your skin thinking about all this, the answer is simple. Join us on July 21. Just One Thing to Think About.

Ladies (And Gentleman) – Let’s Talk Skin Protection!

This is a story about Jeffrey Wilson — a skin cancer survivor. Jeffrey is the first man we are highlighting as part of our Women and Wellness program. Why, you ask? Because in today’s world, women continue pushing the men in their lives to get necessary screenings. We want our men to be healthy, right ladies?

One day Jeffrey noticed what appeared to be just a pimple on his skin. That pimple ended up being an aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel Cell Skin Cancer. Thanks to Dr. Christopher Balamucki and The Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center, Jeffrey is back doing the things he loves best. Watch now to see Jeffrey’s story and his message for protecting your skin.

What is Merkel Cell Skin Cancer?

Merkel Cell is an aggressive kind of skin cancer that has tripled in volume over the past several years. Want to know how you can protect your skin especially during these hot summer months? Radiation Oncologist Dr. Christopher Balamucki talks with Emily Burris in this TV-20 Medical Spotlight and gives advice on how to prevent skin cancer and what to look for if you’re concerned.