Edwards event sheds light on skin cancer | VailDaily.com
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Edwards event sheds light on skin cancer

DAILY STAFF REPORT
Vail CO, Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado ” The Bookworm of Edwards and the Community Cancer Coalition will host a series of discussions geared toward raising awareness about cancer in Eagle County.

The next session takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at The Bookworm and coincides with Melanoma Awareness Month. The lecture will focus on the role of prevention, treatment and recovery from skin cancer. This event is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited.

Leading the discussion will be Drs. Karen Nern and Jean Liu Urquhart, both certified dermatologists with Vail Dermatology in Edwards. Dr. Alec Urquhart, a medical oncologist with the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards, will also contribute to the informational meeting. The event seeks to educate community members about skin cancers and provide medical staff to answer questions in a public forum.

“The risk of melanoma is double the national average in Colorado,” Nern said. “Especially at high altitudes, we are at risk.”

Nern and the Urquharts will share their years of skin cancer experience and research with adults concerned about sun exposure. In addition to prevention, they will also discuss self-diagnosis, doctor visits, surgical options and the battery of questions one should ask about skin cancer.

A helpful tool, Dr. Edward F. McClay’s “100 Questions and Answers about Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers,” will serve as an important reference for attendees. The book outlines three types of skin cancer ” basal cell, squamous and melanoma ” as well as risk factors and what signs to look for when skin and moles change appearance. The book covers an array of skin cancer treatments, from biopsy and minimally invasive surgeries to radiation and chemotherapy.

While Wednesday’s talk will be geared toward adults who have the greatest risk of skin cancer, the doctors offer specific advice for parents.

“Physical protection is the most important,” Nern said, noting that children who experience five or more sun burns before age 18 have greater risk of developing skin cancer as adults. “Hats, rash guards, and clothing are best.”

For adults and children, it is equally important to be aware of the type of sunscreen one applies to the skin. “You want broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays,” Nern advised, pointing out that SPF measures how much protection the lotion gives against UVB rays only. UVA, the rays that cause signs of aging, contribute to skin cancers, too.

While physical and topical protection should be obvious, new oral supplements known to help prevent sunburn can also be used to add layers of protection against the sun’s damaging rays. A healthy diet full of foods that contain Omega fatty acids, Vitamin A and Vitamin D will also help promote healthy skin, Nern said.

So whether you are dining alfresco or climbing a 14er, Nern has some sage advice for everyone who lives in the mountains.

“The earliest sign of a sun burn at 11,000 feet arrives in 6 minutes, versus about 26 minutes in New York,” she said. “You have to live your life, but be prudent about sun exposure,” she said. “Don’t go out unprotected.”


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