No fun in the sun

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 8th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A healthy glow… yes. A lobster look… no. It’s no secret that spending too much time in the sun is bad for the skin.

Now, Stanford University researchers have found that precancerous patches that appear on over-sunned skin can be successfully removed with multiple methods, and that patients seem to find one option easier to take.

Even better, the treatments… acid skin peels, laser resurfacing and a chemotherapy cream… not only remove precancerous skin growths but also slow cancer development.

Researchers say up to sixty percent of squamous [SQUAW-muss] cell skin cancers originate from precancerous skin patches. Research shows squamous cell carcinoma is slightly more likely to spread than some other types of skin cancer… making early detection and rapid treatment ideal.

Currently, doctors commonly burn off precancerous lesions with liquid nitrogen.

Researchers treated twenty-four men who had dozens of these facial growths with an acid peel, laser resurfacing or a topical cream containing a chemotherapy drug.

The researchers found all treatments reduced the number of growths. But patients who got the acid peel were much more compliant with treatment and had fewer side effects than those treated with the laser or the cream.

While each approach markedly decreased skin cancer incidence, the rate at which new cancers formed also was markedly lower for those receiving the peel.

More successful treatment options means a lot of relief for those affected. Repeated treatments may be needed and researchers say follow-up care and continued caution in the sun are a must.