Created: November 21, 2020 10:20 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A local dermatologist is encouraging people to address their health concerns instead of putting them off due to the pandemic.
Dr. John Durkin, with UNM Hospital Dermatology, said he has specific concerns about skin cancer.
“In the land of a lot of sunshine here, we do see a lot of skin cancer,” said Dr. John Durkin, with UNM Hospital Dermatology.
Dr. Durkin said he’s concerned that people are postponing their care because of the latest stay-at-home order
“We definitely saw a huge decrease in people coming in for routine care, you know, especially around April and May,” he said. “We're really seeing the repercussions of that right now.”
Dr. Durkin said their schedules are more overwhelmed than ever.
“Patients are coming in with skin cancers that, you know, have been there for a lot longer or bigger, potentially more advanced,” he said.
As hospitals become more overwhelmed with COVID patients, other providers like dermatologists are becoming busier, too.
“What we don't want is people delaying their care, and we don't want people ending up in urgent care or emergency room or, you know, using those hospital resources that are so stressed right now with the spiking COVID cases,” he said.
Dr. Durkin said most skin cancers that are caught early can be removed, but cancers that have been present for longer have a high risk of spreading to other parts of the body.
“Definitely with melanoma, we don't like patients to wait around because we want to catch it when it's early and it hasn't spread,” he said.
Sun exposure is the leading cause of melanoma, which is why it’s recommended that people wear sunscreen and other protective clothing. People should also take notice for any changes to their skin.
“Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer tend to show up as a red spot or a brown spot,” Dr. Durkin said. “Typically something that looks like a pimple that just doesn't go away, doesn't heal. Bleeding is a very common sign that we see with those types of skin cancers. Melanoma, on the other hand, is sort of your mole gone bad cancer, and that usually shows up as either a new mole or a mole that's been there for a while.”
“So anything that's growing or changing, you know, should be brought to the attention of someone's provider,” he added.
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