Doctor emphasizes screening and safety measures as Floridians face higher risk of skin cancer


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Sunny weather makes Florida a hotspot for skin cancer, with rates higher than the national average.

Dr. Vernon Sondak is the chair of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at Moffit Cancer Center.

“We love Florida because it’s sunny and because the weather is beautiful, and we don’t want to be living entirely indoors and in the dark, but what we do want to be is careful.”

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to UV rays.  Although the highest risk is for people with fair skin or who burn easily, Sondak says skin cancer can affect all skin tones in different ways.

“It does look very different in darker-skinned people. In particular, we see more of the melanomas in darker skinned people occurring on their palms and soles, or under the nails where they don’t have as much pigmentation”

You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by wearing sun-protective clothing and sunscreen. Also, Dr. Sondak says people need to get screened.

“If we can detect them early, even the most serious kinds of skin cancer like melanoma if we detect them early enough, we can remove them in a little procedure with local anesthesia. Person comes in and goes home within a few minutes”

Moffit Cancer Center will be hosting a free screening from 10 to 11 am in Channelside (Port Tampa Bay, Terminal 2, 651 Channelside Drive, Tampa FL 33602) on July 11th, and at Clearwater’s Pier 60 from 9 to 3:30 on July 29th.

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