Today marks the 47th anniversary of the beginning of my father’s dermatology practice. After finishing his residency at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, my father, along with my mother, Gloria, moved to the Hampton Roads area and founded Associates in Dermatology. It was 1970.
A good sun tan is the first sign of skin cancer – what you need to know about protecting yourself
For those of us living in Coastal Virginia, summer signifies fun in the sun. It’s a wonderful time, but it also means we all need to be extra aware of the risk of skin cancer. Dr. William Coker of Associates in Dermatology in Hampton recently answered some important questions about the disease.
Q. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about skin cancer?
A. They think it’s never going to happen to them – it’s going to happen to someone else. If they wait until they have symptoms, usually whatever cancer they have is pretty advanced. People think if it’s not hurting, it’s not a problem. Lots of times people practice denial rather than good sense.
Q. How can a dermatologist identify cancer that a patient wouldn’t know he/she had?
A. It’s a matter of experience. Cancers don’t always look like they do in the books or the newspaper articles. There can be very subtitle changes. Some cancers grow very slowly. People don’t notice. I’ve found things the size of a quarter on people’s face and they never knew they had it.
Q. What are the best things people can do to protect themselves from skin cancer?
A. Minimize sun exposure. The less sun the better. There’s a saying that a good suntan is the first sign of skin cancer.
Q. What are the best sunscreens?
A. Here’s my stock answer: one you use. If some research comes out and says this is the greatest sunscreen in the world but it smells funny and doesn’t feel right, you won’t use it. Use a high number SPF, and us it frequently. Sunscreens are good in that they minimize sun damage and prevent a lot of skin cancer. But they give people a false sense of security. People think they can lie in the sun all day long and won’t get burned or get skin cancer. A good roof is your best sunscreen.
Q. When should you have a baseline skin check?
A. In your early 20s but earlier than that if you have a lot of moles or have had a lots of sunburns.
Q. Explain the three types of skin cancer.
A. If you have to get a skin cancer, get a basal cell carcinoma. It’s relatively easy to treat and doesn’t usually spread. Squamous cell carcinomas are more serious, especially if they occur on an old burn scar, on lips or other membranes. They’re more apt to spread if they occur in those locations. Melanoma is the most serious type. It’s the most likely to spread.
Q. What’s the youngest patient you’ve treated for skin cancer?
A. I saw a 15-year-old with a basal cell carcinoma on her nose. You can get skin cancers at any age. Melanomas also can pop up in areas that don’t get sun exposure.
Q. Describe the treatments for skin cancer.
A. Basal cell skin cancers that are caught fairly early and aren’t on potentially disfiguring areas can be treated with curettage – a scraping procedure. That’s very successful, especially for patients with small basal cell carcinomas on the back, chest, arms and legs. For larger cancers, we may need to do an incision. For larger cancers, especially on the face, we can so Mohs surgery, where the cancer is removed on layer at a time and immediately examined to see if all cancerous cells are gone.
Q. Are skin cancer cases increasing?
A. Yes. Some studies show a 200 percent increase in the rate of melanomas since 1973. We’ve had a burst of them in the last couple of weeks, maybe 15 or so. It’s partly because we’re looking for them harder. Technology helps us to diagnose them at an earlier stage. Before, they may not have been diagnosed as early. All that being said, the incidence of melanoma is increasing.
Q. Is there any good news related to skin cancer?
A. Forty-five years ago, when I started practicing, a melanoma was almost a death warrant. Some people had waited to come in until they had what looked like a big, black grape growing on them. That was bad. Now, we find them earlier. We have a 98 percent cure rate if found in the early stages. The more advanced the melanoma, the more the cure rate drops off.
Q. Any final words?
A. If you have any questions or concerns about your skin, talk to your primary care physician, or see a dermatologist.
Article Featured in the Health section of Coastal Virginia Magazine, July 2016
Taken from the Daily Press article on June 20, 2015:
It was always obvious that he enjoyed going into the office each morning. Whether it was a routine clinical day, a nursing home visit or the occasional house call he always had that certain spring in his step.
During my teenage years when I became disenchanted with school and the idea of being trapped in the adult working world he would remind me: Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.
That advice has helped me find my own success. I consider myself lucky to have such a role model. I follow his example daily and have done so for the past 12 years that we have been working together.
— Dr. Leslie (Lee) Coker, Newport News
Color Me Rad is coming to Newport News with their fun and colorful 5K run. Associates in Dermatology is participating. We’ll have a booth to chat with patients new and old as well as having runners in the race. This year, Dr. Leslie Coker, Janine Derkas, and Magan Katz will be racing into lots of color.
Join us on Saturday, April 26, 2015 at the City Center of Oyster Point, Newport News beginning at 11 AM for all the fun and festivities.
Remember regular exercise is a great way to keep your skin (and the rest of your body) healthy.
To learn more about the Color Me Rad 2015 Tour, visit their website.
Patient adherence has always been a challenge for healthcare providers treating psoriasis. Treating scalp psoriasis is particularly challenging in that most common treatments are disruptive to the patient’s daily routine—which makes them less likely to follow instructions. Most patients with scalp psoriasis already have a hair care routine in place and are resistant to any changes. Dr. Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, described scalp psoriasis as “the mother of all adherence problems in his book, ‘Practical Ways to Improve Patients Treatment Outcomes’.
Simplifying the treatment protocol is key to successful adherence to a scalp psoriasis treatment regimen. Zithranol® Shampoo (anthralin 1%, microcrystalline-encapsulated system) is a non-steroidal shampoo that is lathered into the scalp and then rinsed off after 3 to 4 minutes. Zithranol Shampoo can be incorporated into any hair care routine.
Patients with scalp psoriasis are finding that Zithranol Shampoo fits easily and effectively into their daily routines. In a recent patient-centered outcomes trial, 93% of patients said they would use Zithranol Shampoo again.
Prescribing Zithranol Shampoo is also easy with the Elorac Direct™ Savings Program. This program ensures that patients pay no more than $40 for their Zithranol Shampoo prescriptions, including refills.
If you are battling Scalp Psoriasis, Zithranol Shampoo may help.
Contact us today to schedule an evaluation with our dermatologist
Associates in Dermatology walked to support breast cancer awareness in the Annual Peninsula Making Strides Walk. This is a noncompetitive 3-Mile walk to honor breast cancer survivors and raise awareness about how to stay well. The money raised from the event goes to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease with breast cancer research, information/ services, and access to mammograms for women who need them.
While supporting a good cause, our team and their families have a great time walking together.
The staff of Associates in Dermatology accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge today from Dr. Leslie Coker. Dr. Coker and her daughter, Ellie, accepted the challenge on Wednesday from our Office Manager, Magan Katz. They all got icy cold for a good cause. We are so proud that they are all support ALS. What an awesome and caring staff we have on our team!!
What is ALS?
According to the ALS Association website:
“ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.”
The ALS Association focuses on three areas
Research: Our research entails involves funding for global studies to find the causes of and treatments – and ultimately a cure – for ALS. These activities encompass grants and funding for ALS research and associated costs related to our research program. This program takes a collaborative approach by interacting with scientists around the world and academia, government agencies, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Patient and Community Services: Our Care Services program provides compassionate care and support for people living with ALS and their families. Our 38 chapters assist those living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease by offering them access to loan closets, support groups and information about local resources to help them better cope with the demands of this disease. In addition, our Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence deliver the best of multidisciplinary care to individuals with ALS, and our Recognized Treatment Centers serve the medical needs of those living with the disease.
Public and Professional Education: Through public and professional education, The Association educates healthcare professionals, scientific communities and the general public about Lou Gehrig’s Disease and the work we do in assisting those battling ALS. Our Public Policy Department works with national and local legislators as well as government agencies to advance legislative policies that benefit ALS families. Each year, The Association’s Public Policy Department hosts National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference, whereby members of the ALS community travel to the nation’s capital to educate Congressional members about ALS and to share their stories about how this disease has impacted their lives with these national legislators. (Courtesy of the ALS website)
How to Donate to ALS
If you’d like to donate to this worthy cause yourself or do your own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, please go to their website.