Prince Frederick, MD – May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Save Your Skin: Protect and Detect
Free Skin Cancer Screenings May 16 at Calvert Pines Senior Center, May 17 at Calvert Dermatology, May 23 at North Beach Senior Center for Lisa Bauckman, 37, of Huntingtown, it was a scab that wouldn’t heal. For John Hathaway, 83, of Lusby, it was a spot on his ear.
Lisa Bauckman was 31 when she was first diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. A mother of nine blonde-haired, blue-eyed children, with a family history of skin cancer, Bauckman takes protecting her family with sunblock seriously.
Bauckman and Hathaway have one thing in common—early detection that allowed for a positive outcome for their diagnoses of skin cancer.
“My father has been dealing with skin cancer for 20-plus years and when he noticed the scab on my ear he suggested that I get it checked out,” Bauckman said. A mother of nine, Bauckman admits that her hectic schedule may have delayed her initial trip to a dermatologist, but now after a fourth diagnosis she is an advocate for taking action early. “One basal cell carcinoma that was removed was almost the size of a half-dollar and it could have been much smaller if I had acted sooner. I would tell people that if they have a scab that doesn’t heal, get it checked out.”
“I have loved the outdoors all of my life and had a few bad [sun] burns,” said Hathaway. Fifty years ago, when in his 30s, he noticed his first skin cancer, a squamous cell cancer on his ear that was treated. Since then he has had multiple pre-cancers and cancers—including basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma—treated or surgically removed.
“The cancers didn’t stop me from spending time in the sun enjoying my love of sailing, and now in retirement, golf, but I’m a believer in doing what I can to reduce my risk,” said Hathaway, a retired oral-maxillofacial surgeon, who covers up by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunblock when he’s out in the sun. He also keeps regular appointments with his dermatologist.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the vast majority of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
In 2018, it is expected that 4.3 million people nationwide will be diagnosed with basal cell cancer resulting in 3,300 deaths; 1 million will be diagnosed with squamous cell cancer resulting in 15,000 deaths; and more than 178,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma cancer with 9,300 deaths. Although far fewer people are diagnosed with melanoma cancer, the rate of death is much higher and in the years between 1994 and 2014, the diagnosis of melanoma cancers increased by 77 percent.
These national statistics are alarming, yet Calvert Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center’s Dr. Faris Hawit, who also service as Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at CalvertHealth Medical Center, points out that for Calvert County the rate of late-stage skin cancers diagnosed is relatively low.
In Hawit’s practice with Nurse Practitioner Heather Montgomery, he estimates that more than 50 percent of patients are seen due to concerns about skin cancer.
“The good news is that the vast majority of cases we see are Stage 0 or Stage 1. I rarely see Stage 3 or 4, which I attribute to the county’s excellent primary care providers who are very good at identifying skin cancers and referring patients for treatment with a dermatologist,” said Hawit.
Increase in Cases of Skin Cancers in Men Over 65
Although women account for a higher incidence of skin cancer before the age of 50, men rapidly catch up and pass women by 50 percent at age 65 and by age 80, men are three-times more likely to be detected with a skin cancer.
Why the rapid explosion after age 65? Hawit uses the example of microwave popcorn to explain.
“The unpopped kernels represent skin cells and the more they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation—or, the longer they are in the microwave—the more chance those cells have to mutate into cancerous cells. So, at the 2-minute mark the kernels are still mostly unpopped, then at the 2 minute-30 second mark, the kernels begin to pop. For men, who traditionally have more jobs that expose them to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, and who traditionally spend more time outdoors with hobbies, age 65 and up can be their 2-minute-30-second mark.”
What can you do?
On Your Birthday—Examine Your ‘Birthday Suit’
“People should look at their ‘birthday suit’ with a full-length mirror every year on their birthday and at least twice more during the year,” said Hawit. The A, B, C, D, E characteristics of possible cancers are lesions that are ‘A’symmetrical in shape, with a jagged ‘B’order, presence of more than one ‘C’olor and are greater in ‘D’iameter than the size of a pencil eraser. The most important characteristic according to Hawit is ‘E’volution—a change in a mole or area of the skin.
Step out into the Sun Safely
With the majority of skin cancers caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting yourself and your family is important. If possible, avoid being out in the full sun during the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you have to be out in full sun, wear a hat and protective clothing or broad-spectrum sunblock of SPF 30 or greater. Hawit suggests a zinc-based sunblock lotion and doesn’t recommend using a spray—but if you must, to spray very close to the skin and don’t inhale.
CalvertHealth is hosting free skin cancer screenings as part of their Ask the Expert Series on May 16 at 1 p.m. at Calvert Pines Senior Center and May 23 at 1 p.m. at North Beach Senior Center.
On May 17 from noon to 2 p.m., Calvert Dermatology will host a free cancer screening at their office in Prince Frederick. For an appointment, sign up online at calverthealthmedicine.org.
Free Skin Cancer Screening. 1 p.m., May 16. Calvert Pines Senior Center, 450 West Dares Beach Rd., Prince Frederick. In collaboration with Calvert Health, the Office on Aging will be holding free skin cancer screenings in the Calvert Health Mobile Unit. You must preregister and make an appointment by calling 410-535-4606. Dr. Faris Hawit will give a presentation at 1 p.m. with appointments beginning at 1:30 p.m. Limited number of appointment slots. Free.
Free Skin Cancer Screening. Noon to 2 p.m., May 17. Calvert Dermatology, Calvert Medical Arts Center, 130 Hospital Road, Suite 200, Prince Frederick. Register online through calverthealthmedicine.org/ suggested, but walk-ins are welcome. Free.
Free Skin Cancer Screening. 1 p.m., May 23. North Beach Senior Center, 9010 Chesapeake Ave., North Beach. In collaboration with Calvert Health, the Office on Aging will be holding free skin cancer screenings in the Calvert Health Mobile Unit. You must preregister and make an appointment by calling 410-257-2549. Dr. Faris Hawit will give a presentation at 1 p.m. with appointments beginning at 1:30 p.m. Limited number of appointment slots. Free.
Photographed above – Dr. Faris Hawit
A board-certified dermatologist with Calvert Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, Dr. Faris Hawit grew up in Calvert County in a medical family—his father recently retired as a pediatrician. Hawit is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and did his residency at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and St. Luke’s Hospital and Colombia Presbyterian in New York. But Calvert County was home. “I love the people here and the sense of community. This is where I wanted to raise my three children,” Hawit said.
CalvertHealth is a private, not-for-profit, community health system. Founded in 1919, CalvertHealth has been taking care of Southern Maryland families for nearly a century. In addition to the medical center campus, medical office buildings in Dunkirk, Twin Beaches, Prince Frederick, Lusby and Solomons ensure that quality care is no more than 15 minutes from anywhere in Calvert County. CalvertHealth’s trusted team provides residents with safe, high quality health care and promotes wellness for a healthy community – all while making a difference in every life we touch.