Rachel Seymour, MD, with Saint Luke's Primary Care – Cushing in Leavenworth, will speak at the Leavenworth Public Library, 417 Spruce St., in the Jahn Room from 1-2 p.m. Thursday.

Rachel Seymour, MD, with Saint Luke’s Primary Care – Cushing in Leavenworth, will speak at the Leavenworth Public Library, 417 Spruce St., in the Jahn Room from 1-2 p.m. Thursday. She will share information on summer skin care and the prevention, identification and treatment of skin cancer. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 913-684-1112. In this Q5, she talks about the importance of taking precautions with your skin.

Why is it important for people to take extra care to protect themselves from the sun during the summer months? Is it often overlooked that it’s also important to take precautions year-round?
Typically people are spending more time outside during summer months in less clothing which is why there is renewed emphasis on sunscreen usage. Harmful UV rays are around year-round and even on cloudy days, so sunscreen on exposed skin is always necessary to prevent skin cancer and photo-aging.
 
What are the best ways to ensure that you are properly protected against sun damage? Since a certain amount of sunlight is needed for vitamin D sufficiency, what do you advise your patients on how to take in a healthy dose of sunshine?
The best way to ensure proper protection is limit sun exposure by staying in the shade, wear protective clothing including hats, long sleeves and sunglasses, and wear appropriate sunscreen. Sunlight is required for synthesis of vitamin D but there is no safe amount of sun exposure in terms of not getting skin cancer. Vitamin D is also available in many foods. Children need about 400IU daily and most adults require about 800IU daily.
 
How prevalent is skin cancer in the U.S. and should self-exams on a regular basis be a constant exercise for all people? What are some of the warning signs of a dangerous mole or skin discoloration? Should people always schedule an appointment with their doctor if they notice an irregular mole?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends yearly self-exam. They say, “Check your birthday suit on your birthday.” There are three different types of skin cancer which have different morphologies. The basics are to look for any mole or skin lesion that changes over time, doesn’t heal properly, has multiple colors or irregular borders. You should always ask your doctor to take a look if you see something concerning. I don’t have exact numbers on the prevalence of skin cancer but will include those in my presentation. I do know the incidence for all skin cancers has gone up the last 10 years.
 
Who are the most at-risk people for skin cancer? What other health risks are aggravated by strong sunlight? Do tanning booths also carry serious risks?
People at highest risk are those with fair skin and with high levels of unprotected sun exposure. A history of multiple blistering burns is also a risk. Tanning booths absolutely carry risks as they emit UV rays which are the cause of skin cancers.
 
What is your best advice for committed sun lovers who spend lots of time baking in the sun at lakes or beaches?
The best advice is don’t do it. But if you must spend hours in the sun, make sure you’re using the right amount and the proper SPF and re-applying sunscreen frequently to protect against the sun’s harmful rays.
– Rimsie McConiga