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Local health experts give insight on skin cancer

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Local medical experts are providing some insight into the disease.

William Waller, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a dermatologist with Hattiesburg Clinic, and he says he sees patients with skin cancer regularly.

“I see skin cancer every day…,” Waller said. “It’s something that affects patients from their 20′s to in their 80′s.”

We’re told one of its main causes is ultraviolent radiation.

“Sun exposure, sun damage is the leading cause of skin cancer,” Waller said.

According to Waller, protecting the skin, whether out in the sun or for a quick trip to the store, is crucial.

“Sun damage is cumulative so even little bits of exposure… going to the mailbox, running an errand outside, if you think about it, if you do that 5 or 10 minutes several times a day, it actually can add up to some significant sun exposure,” Waller said.

Waller says this means not protecting the skin can have potentially deadly consequences.

“Five or more sunburns actually doubles your risk of melanoma...,” Waller said. “That really should be an eye-opener for... definitely younger people that feel like, ‘Oh, I’ll get a burn, it’ll peel, it’ll go away.’ Well really, that damage is long-term, and the more burns you get the higher chance of things like melanoma as you get older.”

Waller says if skin cancer is caught early, it is curable 99% of the time.

“Be aware of any spots that are aging,” Waller said.

Waller says while some spots do not show symptoms, there are some signs to look for.

“When it comes to skin cancer you are looking for spots that are bleeding, tender, sometimes even itching…,” Waller said. “Sores that don’t heal or spots that are enlarging… when it comes to malignant moles… you’re obviously looking at borders, shape, size and color.”

For more from Waller on skin protection, click here.

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