May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Dr. Dan Filitis, dermatologist and the Mohs surgeon with MaineGeneral and MDFMR Dermatology Services in Augusta, knows the statistics all too well.
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer.
- One in five people are diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70.
Dr. Filitis, a residency-trained dermatologist, has specialized fellowship training and expertise in Mohs surgery. Mohs micrographic surgery is a precise surgical technique in which skin cancer is removed in stages in an office until all cancer has been removed. A member of MaineGeneral Medical Center's active staff since August 2018, he established his practice locally following completion of a micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY. Today he serves as medical director of Mohs Micrographic Surgery at MaineGeneral.
He is eager to share his advice with all Maine people during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, filming a video highlighting prevention efforts as part of an awareness campaign by MaineGeneral Health.
“I want people to know that it’s never too early or too late to start good sun behavior practices,” says Dr. Filitis.
- Limiting sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF or greater
- Reapplying that sunscreen at least every couple of hours
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat
Dr. Filitis also explains what to look for in changes of spots or moles on the skin, including the ABCDEs of melanoma:
A Asymmetry – One half of the spot is unlike the other half
B Border – The spot has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border
C Color – The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of
tan, brown or black, or areas of white, red or blue
D Diameter – While melanomas are usually greater than six millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser, when diagnosed, they can be smaller
E Evolving – The spot looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color
“Fortunately, when caught early, the majority of skin cancers, including melanoma, can be easily treated with little to no impact on patient survival,” says Dr. Filitis.
Among the many treatments for skin cancer is Mohs micrographic surgery.
“Mohs surgery is the most advanced, precise and effective treatment for skin cancer to date,” Dr. Filitis says. “With the technique, we combine achieving the highest cure rates with maximal preservation of normal healthy tissue.”
To learn more about skin cancer or about MaineGeneral’s Mohs micrographic surgery, and to see Dr. Filitis’ video, go to www.mainegeneral.org/skin.