Skin cancer awareness

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Applying sunscreen is fundamental, but Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga and the team at Apex Dermatology offer these additional recommendations for skin cancer prevention. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Olivia Bloom

With approximately three-and-a-half million cases in more than two million people diagnosed annually, skin cancer isn’t a topic you should ignore. The good news is that when caught early, Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga, founder of Apex Dermatology, says it’s one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Dr. Garcia, who recently opened a new office in Parma, says that he, along with colleagues, Dr. Brian Moore and Certified Nurse Practitioner Ringaile Sirvaitis, are passionate crusaders in the treatment, prevention and fight against skin cancer.

When you’re going to be exposed to sun, no matter the time of year, Dr. Garcia recommends using a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

“Look for products with physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which offer the best protection,” he says. “When outdoors, you can also use the ‘shadow rule’ to gauge current UV levels. If your shadow is shorter than you are, UV rays are intense. When it’s longer, UV radiation is less intense.”

Of the various forms of skin cancer, melanoma is the deadliest. Your risk of developing melanoma doubles if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime.

Moreover, people who use indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, two-and-a-half times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and one-and-a-half times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than those who don’t.

A lot of people who have melanoma aren’t even aware they have it. Each year, around 70,000 highly invasive cases are diagnosed in the U.S. alone, making it the most common cause of cancer-related death for people between the ages of 15 and 30.

“People who have melanoma are usually asymptomatic. Commonly people dismiss melanoma as a mole or beauty mark,” Dr. Garcia says. “Fortunately, when caught early, melanoma has around a 98 percent cure rate.”

Dr. Garcia says people should use the “ABCDEs of Melanoma” to detect potentially dangerous spots. Look for asymmetry, irregular borders with jagged or notched edges, and spots with multiple colors, a diameter that exceeds the size of a pencil eraser and any areas that are evolving—either by getting larger, bleeding, crusting, itching, shrinking or becoming bumpy.

Melanoma is tricky, as it doesn’t just strike on areas exposed to the sun. It can be found under a person’s nails and on the palms and soles of one’s feet. People who have a family history of melanoma or pancreatic cancer tend to be at an increased risk. And while there are misconceptions that skin cancer only affects people with fair skin, that is inaccurate, Dr. Garcia says.

“Everyone is at risk, which is why I recommend getting a total body skin exam by a board certified dermatologist each year. For folks who have had skin cancer, screenings should be performed twice annually. Those who have had melanoma before should be checked three times each year,” he adds.

As a Harvard-trained dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Garcia keeps abreast of the latest developments in skin cancer research and is always updating his equipment accordingly. He says body checks are non-invasive. For spots that are suspicious, he uses a pain-free device called a dermatoscope to investigate further.

“If you see a new or changing skin lesion, don’t wait. The longer you hold off the more advanced therapies you may need,” Dr. Garcia says, noting that survival rates decrease as skin cancer progresses.

“If you see a suspicious spot, with our SpotCheck program we will get you on our schedule within 72 hours—guaranteed.”

Apex Dermatology has five locations to serve the Greater Cleveland and Akron areas. To schedule an appointment in your area, you can call:

  • Parma 440-845-1146
  • Concord 440-352-SKIN (7546)
  • Mayfield Heights 440-646-1600
  • Solon 440-349-SKIN (7546)
  • Hudson 330-653-DERM (3376)

Visit for location addresses and detailed information on the services offered. Flexible weekday hours are available. Saturday appointments are available at some locations.

Categories: Health & Wellness