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Have You Had Your Skin Checked Lately?

With the arrival of spring, more and more Central Floridians will be eager to spend their time outdoors and enjoying the favorable weather conditions. However, all that time soaking up the sunshine is not without risk and it can ultimately lead to serious skin damage and dangerous outcomes. 

Skin cancer rates are steadily rising in the United States where more than 3.6 million cases are diagnosed each year, equating to more than all other cancers combined. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one out of every five people will develop a form of skin cancer by the age of 70. On the surface, those figures may seem daunting, but thanks to advancements in technology and treatment protocols, there’s never been more ways to combat the disease.

Here in Central Florida, that high level of expert care can be found nearby. Associates in Dermatology, under the guidance of board-certified dermatologist Michael Steppie, was established nearly 35 years ago and has grown to 17 locations, including Celebration, Clermont, Dr. Phillips and Ocoee.

And while May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Steppie knows full well that the battle against the disease is a prolonged fight. “Regularly practicing good skin care habits is important because Florida’s near year-round high temperatures puts us at an increased risk for cancer,” he says. “By taking simple and responsible measures to protect yourself, you can make a real impact in protecting the largest organ in the body.”

Just ask Hollywood star Hugh Jackman, who recently went public with his skin cancer diagnosis and urged people to take the matter more seriously. It’s actually the fifth time that Jackman has been diagnosed with skin cancer, proving that once you are diagnosed with the disease there remains a need to be proactive and diligent with screenings and follow-up treatments. In his social media post, Jackman urged everyone to take proper precaution from the sun. “Please wear sunscreen. It is just not worth it, no matter how much you want a tan… trust me, trust me,” the 54-year-old said to his fans. 

“Keeping a close eye on your skin can give you greater peace of mind, and if needed, improves your chance for successful treatment,” Dr. Steppie adds. “Most importantly the daily use of sunscreen and other forms of UV protection can greatly reduce your risks of developing precancers and skin cancer.”

There are three main types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma (the most common), squamous cell carcinoma (the second-most common) and melanoma (the most deadly). Because of the aforementioned exposure to the sun in our area, residents are particularly susceptible to the dangers of melanoma. In the past decade, melanoma rates have skyrocketed nearly 45% and continue to be at an all-time high.

“It may sound unbelievable at first, but the fact is that people who have more than five sunburns over the course of their lifetime are at a heightened risk to develop melanoma,” according to Dr. Steppie.

As a pioneer in skin cancer awareness, Dr. Steppie has a particular interest in melanoma and has been a highly regarded member of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Amonette Circle for more than a decade. What’s more, he’s collaborated alongside the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona and contributed key research on melanoma which has been published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology

“Over the years, I have committed myself to finding ways to improve early detection methods in order to help identify biomarkers which will pave the way for more personalized approaches to treatment,” says Dr. Steppie.

While melanoma contributes to more than 75% of all skin cancer deaths, the mortality rate is twice the amount with men compared to women.

“Men tend to have this feeling of invincibility and that proper skin care isn’t necessary. Unfortunately, that preconceived notion couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says, noting that men are less likely than their female counterparts to take necessary measures such as applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and checking their skin for lesions.

At Associates in Dermatology, the highly skilled team of experts are focused on proper diagnosis and treatment. The practice specializes in MOHS micrographic surgery—the same procedure performed on Jill Biden—which has a cure rate of up to 99% for most skin cancers.

The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Big See campaign offers advice on what to be on the lookout for when spotting irregularities. The three things to watch for are newly formed moles, spots that have changed in appearance or unusual spots that continuously itch, hurt, crust or bleed for more than three weeks.

Speaking of the Skin Cancer Foundation, it will once again be offering its free mobile skin cancer screening and education program Destination Healthy Skin all across the U.S. starting in May and running through September. For the third time, Associates in Dermatology will be assisting in the foundation’s attempt to raise awareness. As the only Orlando dermatology practice to join the cause, Dr. Steppie and his team of providers will be performing skin screenings on May 31 and June 1, in the 38-foot Destination Healthy Skin RV. These skin cancer screenings will be taking place in Dr. Phillips in the Phoenicia Center parking lot* from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dermatologist examines a mole of male patient

“To align myself with The Skin Cancer Foundation’s efforts is something I take great pride in as I know it will have a direct benefit for many Central Floridians,” says Dr. Steppie. 

At the end of the day, taking the proper precautions and being self-aware can go a long way to preventing skin cancer from forming, but ultimately your best chance for a proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plan would be to schedule an appointment with a professional. And with its patient-focused care and a proven track record dating back to the foundation established back in 1989, it’s no wonder why so many have repeatedly entrusted Associates in Dermatology with their skin care needs.

“As a trusted dermatologic provider, I am passionate about spreading the word about skin cancer and saving lives. And I’m honored that so many patients have entrusted Associates in Dermatology with their care over the years,” says Dr. Steppie. “While the month of May certainly raises heightened awareness in the fight against skin cancer, I fully understand that the battle is waged all year long. That is why we will always go above and beyond to offer the utmost in personalized care for all our patients.”

*7932 West Sand Lake Road. These skin cancer screenings are first come first served. Dates and times are subject to change.

Associates in Dermatology | Multiple locations in Central Florida including

Celebration | Clermont  | Dr. Phillips | Hunter’s Creek | Ocoee 

(800) 827-7546 |