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Published: May, 2011; Vol 7, Num 12

 

More Time in the Sun, More Opportunity for Skin Cancer

Free Sunscreen Products
From the LHSFNA

Lip balm, neck flaps, towelettes, health alerts and posters in English and Spanish are available to LIUNA training centers and local unions through the LHSFNA’s Sun Sense Program. Additional sun protection products from Solar Protective Factory, Inc. are available with a 40 percent discount through Aug. 31,2011, by going to www.spfstore.com and entering LHSF311.

“Long summer days are a double-edged sword in construction,”says LHSFNA's Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck. “Those extra hours of sunshine – often crucial for completing projects on schedule – increase the risk of skin cancer. Laborers at outdoor sites must wear sunscreen and protective clothing.” Indeed, anyone spending time outdoors should take appropriate precautions."

Alternate description

LHSFNA Management
Co-Chairman
Noel C. Borck

Skin Cancer’s "ABCDE" Warning Signs
Of Melanoma

  • Asymmetry: one-half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • Borders: the edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Colors: the color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown, black, pink, red, white or blue.
  • Diameter: the spot is larger than six mm, the size of a pencil eraser or larger.
  • Evolution: change has occurred in size, shape, color, height or bleeding, itching or crusting.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers.(Pictures of what skin cancer looks like are posted at the end of this article.) In the United States, more than two million cases are diagnosed annually. Melanoma, the most deadly form, has seen a marked increase over the last thirty years. In 2010, more than 8,000 Americans died from melanoma. Heredity, toxic chemical exposures and therapeutic radiation were factors in some of these lives lost, but most resulted from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of which sunlight is the main source. That means that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented. Regular and liberal application of sunscreen and minimizing midday and high sun exposures throughout the year will usually prevent skin cancer.

Free skin cancer screenings are available through the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening Program. The AAD website has information on free screenings in your community.

Skin cancer can appear anywhere. Common spots are the back, neck, arms, hands, legs, scalp, face, nose, lips and ears, but less exposed areas often with less pigment like the palms, beneath fingernails and toenails, between toes and the genitals are also vulnerable. These are the places where melanoma most often appears in African Americans, Latinos and Asians. However, all forms of skin cancer can show up on anyone anywhere.

While unprotected and excessive exposure to sunlight is most often responsible for skin cancer, tanning beds and sun lamps can also cause this disease. Studies indicate that tanning bed use increases lifetime risk for melanoma by as much as 75 percent. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is among many prominent health organizations supporting legislation under consideration in a number of states that would ban children under the age of 18 from using tanning salons.

Major Types of Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, is easily treated and the least likely to spread if detected early:

  • Pearly, waxy bump on face, ear or neck
  • Flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion on chest or back

Squamous cell carcinoma spreads more easily than basal cell and is the second most common skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma has a high cure rate but can cause disfiguring complications, or even death if neglected and allowed to spread:

  • Firm, red nodule on face, lips, ears, neck, hands or arms
  • Flat lesion with scaly, crusted surface on face, ears, neck, hands or arms

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and can appear anywhere on the body including in an existing mole. Left untreated, melanoma can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes harder to cure and can be fatal:

  • Brownish spot with darker speckles
  • Mole that changes in color, size, feel or bleeds
  • Lesion with irregular border and red, white, blue or blue-black spots
  • Shiny, firm, dome-shaped bumps
  • Dark lesions on palms, soles, fingertips, toes and  mucus membranes lining the mouth, nose, vagina and anus

Squamous cell and Basal cell carcinoma are common forms of skin cancer.

Melanoma can take various forms.

As is the case with all cancers, early detection is essential when treating skin cancer,” says Borck. “Examine your skin every two to three months and have a yearly check performed by your health care provider. Keep in mind that you can have skin cancer and not be in any pain. Pay attention to changes in your skin.”

The LHSFNA conducts a campaign each May to remind Laborers and signatory employers of the skin cancer risk and to encourage appropriate steps for protection. Materials, posters and additional information are available through the Fund’s online Publications Catalogue.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]