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Posts Tagged ‘melanoma los angeles’


Our new waiting room

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Thanks to our loyal patients for putting up with our waiting room in Suite 570 for all these years. Here’s the new look! Also, I know some people loved the stained glass ceiling in Suite 520, some thought it was god awful. It is now gone because we needed better lighting and I had a patient who loved to have it, thankfully. I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Melanoma rates in children have risen. Melanoma deaths in male baby boomers is twice that of female baby boomers. An article of mine on sun and melanoma was recently cited in a new article in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology entitled, “Melanoma Death Prevention.”

Recently I had a patient come in after 7 years. It has been that kind of year. Luckily for him, he came in. I found a melanoma in-situ on his back. His prognosis is excellent. I love my job!

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Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

May is the month of Melanoma Awareness and Don’t Fry Day. The latter day was created by Dr. Jeff Ashley through his non-profit organization Sun Safety for Kids. This organization promotes sun safety awareness to children and their schools. I sit on the executive board of this organization. If you know of any teachers who would be interested in educational materials for their students or any members of the PTA who are on their school safety committees, please have them visit

Although we all tend to protect ourselves more during the summer months, a friendly reminder that even UVA rays penetrate through clouds. The scary thing is that we are all exposed to flourescent lighting and now, UV-C lighting in our workplace and home, and we tend to forget our constant exposure in these settings as well.

At the same time, I have read that the JAMA has published that surgery for nonmelanoma skin cancers may not be beneficial for certain elderly patients. While I agree that treating a skin cancer on someone who has a life expectancy of less than one year may not make sense, we have treated a number of very elderly patients in our practice and have contributed to their well-being and comfort. Dr. Bennett recently saw a 108 year old, who saw him when she was 98, asking if her skin cancer should be treated! Today I spoke to a patient who lost 2 friends not to melanoma, but to squamous cell carcinoma. Dying from SCC is not a pleasant way to go, particularly of the head and neck. In some cases it is miserable and difficult to watch someone losing the ability to chew, speak, talk and swallow. What I am afraid of is our loss of access to a good procedure like Mohs surgery which, while expensive, does provide the highest rate of cure for skin cancer treatment. Mohs surgery is not necessary for all tumors in all locations, at the same token. An ethical and competent dermatologist should be able to steer one in the right direction when it comes to treatment. Make sure you know all of your options and why a treatment may be recommended to you. I have seen cases where Mohs surgery should have been done, and had not been recommended, to the opposite, where Mohs was probable overkill, and should only have been done if the patient had chosen that option.

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Skin Cancer Myths and Facts

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Skin Cancer Myths and Facts

The Skin Cancer Foundation has a wonderful page about the most controversial and confusing issues regarding sun protection. Check it out! And hey, I finally figured out how to create a link on Word Press (it’s that red link above). That alone should encourage you to check it out. Woo hoo!

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Even fish get skin cancer

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

There was an interesting story in the LA Times about Australian trout that get melanomas. Also, there is a new free app called UMskincheck which was developed at the Univ of Michigan to follow moles. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it should be interesting. Whether or not it would change biopsy rates is yet to be seen. I have biopsied moles that look scary and they’re completely benign and others that are tiny, but dark, and found melanomas or near melanomas. It is important to get a regular screening and get to know your own moles and growths to watch for changes.

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Melanoma Monday

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Mayo Clinic just announced results of a long study on residents in Minnesota. Between 1970 and 2009, the incidence of melanoma went up 9 times for young women, and 4 times for young men. Also, the Skin Cancer Foundation announced that one person dies of melanoma every hour.

A skin cancer exam is a very important part of one’s general health check-up. Many melanomas can be subtle or very small.

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Skin cancer, the gift that keeps on giving

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

…well at least it’s not genital warts (see previous post). Once you get a skin cancer, unfortunately, you often will get more. The younger you are when you get one, the more likely you will have more in your lifetime. Almost everyone we treat with Mohs surgery has had a previous skin cancer elsewhere. It is important to prevent skin cancer in the first place by avoiding prolonged sun exposure and practicing common sense sun protection. Does that mean you have to be a recluse? No, but purposefully sunbathing is not very smart.

An experienced dermatologist can often recognize a skin cancer in its earliest stages, though every dermatologist has missed something at some point in their careers. (And if they claim they have not, they are big fat liars!). Therefore, we rely on patients to do their own self exam and observe any suspicious lesions for changes in color, shape, size and border, and to come in for periodic exams. Don’t let anyone freeze any lesions more than once without discussing the possibility of a biopsy for any persistent or recurrent lesion. The person that set the record in my office for the longest time spent in Mohs surgery in one day was a celebrity in his 40’s who had had a lesion frozen twice with two different dermatologists. He pulled through wonderfully and took it very well considering, but we were both dumbfounded at the extent that this tumor had grown.

I love what I do and I get the most satisfaction from educating my patients on their skin lesions and skin cancer, but I would rather not be cutting off parts of your nose, eyelids, lips, etc for your sake. Preventative care is really important.

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Lots of skin cancer news

Friday, October 28th, 2011

There has been a lot of new data on skin cancer lately.
-There is a link between melanoma and breast cancer
-Women who drink 3 cups of coffee a day may lower their risk of basal cell carcinoma by 20%. Sorry, men, only 9% for you.
-After just 4 tanning bed visits, the risk of basal and squamous cell carcinoma increases by 15% and of melanoma by 11%. The younger the patient is, the higher the risk of basal cell carcinoma
-Melanoma rates have increased for women under 50 for Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics
-Melanoma remains the #1 cancer in white women from the ages of 25 to 29 and #2 for women 15 to 30 years old

It is not common knowledge that non-white people can get skin cancers. Some of the worst basal cell cancers I have seen are in Hispanics and Asians. The two worst nose cases I’ve seen lately were in two Korean people in their 60’s to 70’s.

I would not be surprised if I get a basal cell carcinoma one day considering that my friends and I spent a lot of time frying in the sun trying to tan ourselves and swimming at the Swim Club! I remember my blonde friend turning as red as a lobster, and I was disappointed that I just couldn’t tan. Baby oil, Hawaiian Tropic and Coppertone SPF 4-we used it to try to get tan, not to protect ourselves! I escaped the signs of sun damage until I moved to San Diego in the late 90’s. Too much outdoor fun on the weekends led to a lot of freckling. I wish I knew then what I know now.

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California bans tanning for minors

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Gov. Brown has signed into law a ban against indoor tanning for minors under 18. Previously indoor tanning was allowed for minors between 14 and 17 with parental consent. Indoor tanning has clearly been linked to a higher incidence of melanoma.

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How to spot a melanoma

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

“What do I look for?” is a common question I get asked. Some of you have heard of the ABCDE rules (Asymmetry, irregular Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving).

Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah…one of my favorite quotes from a derm I know. I don’t find the ABCDE rule that helpful because there are plenty of benign lesions which would fit these criteria. My favorite way to explain it is “The Ugly Duckling” rule. Look at your moles, the ones that stick out like the ugly duckling are the ones usually to be concerned about. The most sensitive criteria tends to be color (black, very dark brown/black), though there is a rare variant of melanoma known to be colorless or red.

75% of melanomas arise spontaneously without a pre-existing mole, and they can arise quickly. Every year I find some of my established patients I’ve been checking for yearly for years all of the sudden present with a new black lesion, sometimes in the earliest stages, or already invasive. Scary. The good news is that melanomas caught in the earliest stages have an excellent prognosis.

In addition, anyone with a personal or family history of skin cancer, should not only worry about themselves, but also their family members. Remind them to get checked as well!

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