Skin Cancer – Star Tribune

Skin cancer: Let’s halt this rising rate


skin cancer mn

As a dermatologist, I see firsthand the devastating toll that skin cancer takes on Minnesotan

Earlier this week, the “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” was released, showing that overall cancer death rates continue to decline in the United States among both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for all of the most common cancer sites, including lung, colon and rectum, female breast, and prostate.

This is good news; however, a closer look at the data also reveals cause for concern. While cancer deaths overall are going down, one form of cancer continues to increase in Minnesota and nationwide — melanoma. In fact, melanoma rates in Minnesota have doubled in the last 24 years, making it one of the most common cancers among 20- to 49-year-olds in the state.

This jump is attributable to increased exposure to UV radiation, including an increased use of tanning beds. Tanning beds greatly increase the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, as well as squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Using a tanning bed, even once, increases the risk of skin cancer significantly. Using one before the age of 35 increases an individual’s risk of melanoma by 75 percent. For this reason, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in 2009, labeled tanning beds Class 1 carcinogens — the same as cigarettes.

Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is simply not true. Tanning beds give out UVA and often UVB rays, both of which cause long-term skin damage and are linked to skin cancer. Most dermatologists and health groups advise against using tanning beds and sun lamps. This year alone, an estimated 1,130 new melanoma cases are expected and nearly 120 Minnesotans will die from the disease. These cancer diagnoses are avoidable if Minnesota takes steps to protect residents from UV rays, including prohibiting youths from using tanning beds. Currently, 42 percent of Twin Cities’ girls ages 14 to 17 report using tanning beds. If we don’t change this, we will continue to see rising melanoma rates.

As a dermatologist, I see firsthand the devastating toll that skin cancer takes on Minnesotans. It’s time to take a tangible step toward protecting health through preventing melanoma.

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The writer is a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Charles Crutchfield Co-Authors Book

little charles hits a home run“LITTLE CHARLES HITS A HOME RUN!”

Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D., Dermatologist, Co-Authors Children’s Book with Mary Mills Barrow on Importance of Educating Children about Sun Protection

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan- October 10, 2012. Every year, millions of children are overexposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This informative book provides five simple action steps to help children prevent skin cancer. As outlined in the book, little league has started and Charles is determined to keep his friends from getting sunburned. When his dad tells him that sun rays can harm skin of all types, Charles finds ways to use the letters in the acronym SunAWARE to explain why sun protection is so important.
The SunAWARE acronym emphasizes: Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight, seek shade, and never indoor tan: Wear sun-protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses, year-round; Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sunburn-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours or as needed; Routinely examine your whole body for changes in your skin and report concerns to parents or health-care providers; Educate your family and community about the need to be SunAWARE
Available in various formats, this book makes a great addition to any child’s reading collection.
Amazon (Hardcover Book) and Kindle Version:
Nook and iPad:

Dr. Crutchfield is considered one of the best cosmetic dermatologists in the United States.  He is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.  In addition to his doctorate degree, he also has a master’s degree in molecular biology from the Mayo Clinic.  He did his internship training at the Gundersen Clinic and his dermatology residency at the University of Minnesota.  He is a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School teaching medical students, dermatology residents, nursing students, and other healthcare providers.

In local and national surveys involving physicians, nurses, healthcare providers and healthcare facilities, Dr. Crutchfield has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading and best skin care experts. Honors include “Top Doctor” (Minneapolis St. Paul magazine), “Top Doctor for Women” (Minnesota Monthly magazine), “America’s Top Dermatologists” (Consumers’ Research Council of America), and “The Best Doctors in America 2011-2012” (Best Doctors). In addition to these accolades, Dr. Crutchfield has received the “Gold Triangle Award” from the American Academy of Dermatology, the “Karis Humanitarian Award” from the Mayo Clinic and the “Physician Health Care Hero Award” from Medica, Twin Cities Business and Kare 11 Broadcasting. Dr. Crutchfield is a regularly invited guest on the Lori and Julia Show on myTalk 107.1 radio. Dr. Crutchfield is also the Team Dermatologist for the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins.
Crutchfield Dermatology also has an award winning website, ranked as a ‘Favorite Place’ by Google that contains hundreds of hours of helpful, consumer friendly, skin care information at
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A Prudent Approach to Sun

inside science(ISNS) — Dermatologist Joshua Fox’s goal is to keep patients safe from sun damage that can — in extremes — lead to skin cancer. But he realizes that often means striking a balance with patients.

That balance may include limiting the amount of time spent in the sun and avoiding the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. window of peak sun intensity.

“It’s a negotiation,” said Fox, a practicing dermatologist and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. “I don’t think you stop living life.”

Colleagues agree with Fox, and note that sun-safe behaviors are vital to protect people from concerns that range from melanoma to premature aging.

“Our position at this time is being outdoors is part of a healthy lifestyle,” said J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “[Using] sunscreen is part of that.”

Don’t let sun damage fears stunt summertime fun, experts say.
Originally published:
Jul 3 2012 – 3:15pm
Patricia Quigley, ISNS Contributor

Sun protection

Experts agree that sun-safe behaviors are vital to protect people from concerns ranging from melanoma to premature aging.
Image credit:
Chris J. Nicolini | ISNS
Rights information:


Lichtenfeld said that each year more than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancers, the great majority of which are classified as basal or squamous cell skin cancers. His organization estimates that in 2012, 76,250 Americans will be diagnosed with the most deadly form of skin cancer, invasive melanoma, which is more likely to spread than other skin cancers if not detected early. They estimate that in the U.S., 9,180 deaths due to skin cancer will occur this year, most from melanoma.

Litchfield added that sunscreen is not the primary protection people should rely on, and it is often applied improperly or depended on too heavily. He recommends using sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 30 and applying it repeatedly, along with other important barriers such as sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.

Those measures can lessen the impact of excess sun, but sunburns are not the only indicator of sun damage, noted dermatologist Dina Strachan. She developed freckles on her hand soon after moving to the Los Angeles area, and knew the freckles’ significance: sun-induced skin damage.

“It wasn’t like I was out there trying to get a tan. I put sunscreen on my face every day,” said Strachan.

“There can be benefits to being outdoors in the sun, but you don’t want to deliberately tan. Tan skin is a danger signal the skin is being harmed,” Lichtenfeld said in an email.

Sun exposure triggers the production of melanin in the skin, but the resulting tan only partially shields the skin against further damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, Vilma Cokkinides, strategic director of Risk Factor Surveillance at the American Cancer Society, wrote in an email.

Health care providers acknowledge that there are some benefits to sun exposure. One of the most talked-about benefits is vitamin D, which forms when ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin, triggering a chain of events in the body that involves the liver and kidneys. Vitamin D is critical to bones, among other things. But the risks of exposure outweigh the benefits.

Carol Drucker, a dermatologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said that most people need 600 international units of vitamin D a day, and food and supplements are the safest way to add it. A 3-ounce serving of salmon, for instance, provides 447 IUs, and an 8-ounce serving of vitamin D-fortified milk provides 120 IUs, she said.

“We know that the sun is a carcinogen. There’s no sense to let sun protection go by the wayside in quest of vitamin D,” Drucker said.

While skin often is the focus when it comes to the sun’s impact on the body, eyes also may be a concern.

Richard Bensinger, an ophthalmologist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, said that sunlight is critical to the development and function of eyesight and not normally a threat to eye health. While it is possible to sunburn an eye, it is rare. Sunlight can affect cataract development and macular degeneration, but in day-to-day life the sun is not generally a high risk factor for eye damage.

“Ordinary sunglasses are perfectly fine,” Bensinger said. “The best thing you can do for any kind of health in bright sun is wear adequate sunscreen and wear sunglasses.”

Charles Crutchfield III, a dermatologist based in St. Paul and professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, favors a pragmatic approach to sun exposure.

“I’m a realist, and I have to have credibility with my patients,” said Crutchfield, who believes telling them to avoid midday sun while on vacation is unrealistic.

“There are many benefits to sun, but you just need to enjoy it responsibly,” added Crutchfield, who noted that the sun may play a role in alleviating Seasonal Affective Disorder and may have other unidentified benefits. He suggested that if individuals are “sun smart,” use protection and avoid tanning and burning it’s acceptable to “go out and have lots of fun in the sun.”

“We were not meant to be mole people,” Crutchfield said.

Patricia Quigley is an award-winning journalist who has written for local, regional, national and international media.

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Have (Safe) Fun in the Sun – Sister 2 Sister Magazine

sister 2 sister magazine june 2009by Susan Spencer
(excerpted from the June 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine) Read in PDF format
Summertime might be when the living is easy, but fun in the sun has health risks. Follow these basic precautions
and care tips to get the most out of summer—safely.
“The summer months are lumps and bumps and insect bites.
It reallyhas to do with being outdoors more,” said Dr. Brenda Geddis-Comrie, a family medicine physician at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Fractures and sprains from bicycling, Rollerblading and skateboarding are all-too-common summer mishaps. Wearing a helmet and—for wheels underfoot—elbow, wrist and knee guards can prevent serious injuries and keep you in the game.
According to Dr. Roneet Lev, an emergency medicine physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, there are 400 heat-related deaths each year in the United States. When the temperature rises, drink extra water or sports drinks to keep your cool. Seek prompt medical attention if you feel weak, disoriented and nauseous, have a headache or muscle aches or a dry mouth.
While the sun might feel good after the cooler months, its ultraviolet rays are dangerous. “Sunburn and skin cancer can occur in all hues of skin,” said Dr. Charles Crutchfield III, a Minneapolis-area dermatologist. “In fact, the darkest hue of skin only provides an SPF of about 6 to 8.” Harmful rays still get through without protection, especially at midday.
Apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher an hour before going out in the sun and then reapply every hour.
Make sure the sunscreen protects against cancer-causing UVA as well as burn-causing UVB waves. Sun-protective clothing and sunglasses also keep you covered.
Check out the June 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine to learn why you still need to be careful and apply sunscreen even when its cloudy.

Death Inspires Women to Battle Melanoma

Melanoma victimDonna Halvorsen, Star Tribune

For these three women, all in their 30s, the shock and fear came first. Next came a desire to tell the world about their experience with a dangerous form of skin cancer called melanoma.

Then, just one week before the women’s employer, the Minneapolis YWCA, planned an education campaign about melanoma, the deadly truth about the disease became apparent. Continue reading Death Inspires Women to Battle Melanoma