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Early detection Was Key with Dr. Jill Biden

Skin cancer is common in the South Bay due to the outdoorsy lifestyle and the weather that is warm enough to be “overexposed.”

Dr. Jill Biden had a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) on her eyelid, and had Mohs surgery to remove it. The Mohs technique was developed to map out the edges of removed tissue, so that any edges that have cancer extending to them can be specifically removed in stages, without removing skin that does not have cancer. The cure rate is the highest of any surgical method, while disturbing the least amount of normal tissue, and is done while the patient waits. A “cryostat” to process the skin while the patient waits is the secret to this quick turnaround. Beach Cities Dermatology utilizes this technique in our offices.

As it happens, people who have one skin cancer are more vulnerable to getting another…and such was the case with Jill Biden, who had a second skin cancer noted and removed at the same time (on her chest).

Around the eyes, a large percentage (90%) are Basal Cell Carcinomas, and while they are rarely fatal, they grow unpredictably and can cause deformity and even loss of an eye, so complete removal is very important.

The other two common skin cancers are Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), about 5% of skin cancers around the eyes, and Melanoma, the rarest of the “big three” of skin cancers, but also the deadliest, because cells can “float” anywhere in the body before the cancer is even diagnosed…early detection is therefore, essential.

The best way to prevent skin cancer around the eyes is part of an overall sun protection strategy.

The strategy includes:

  1. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat (three inches or more, all the way around).

  2. Using broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 15 (which refers to UVB), but also look for “broad spectrum” to include UVA protection. Lately, the decline in the ozone layer has been slowing, which is good news because the ozone is what protects us against UVC.

  3. Wear sunglasses with good UV coating on the lenses, and ideally those that extend out or wrap around the face.

  4. Get your skin checked often. We recommend annually, unless there is a strong family or personal history of sun damage or skin cancer, in which the frequency should be increased variably.

~ Dr Wickwire, January 13th, 2023


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