NEW ORLEANS, La. - Researchers now find that people who take a regular aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications, lower their risk for skin cancer.
And since it's the most common form of cancer, doctors want you this summer, to make sure you spot it before it becomes deadly.
Burns and tans you got yesteryear, could one day be pre-cancer called actinic keratosis or AK's for short.
Doctors' are concerned about young people and baby boomers, who still believe a tan is healthy or attractive or beautiful when they know a tan means sun damage. Your skin and the DNA and the immune system in the skin, are damaged when it gets darker.
"Only when your DNA is hot and burned from the sun is your DNA going to make melanin which is that tan to protect your cells. So there's no way that you're going to have a tan without having damage," said Dr. Ellen Marmur, the Vice Chairwoman of Cosmetic and Dermatologic Surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Dermatologists want us to spot the spots that are AK's because those could become cancer.
"AK's are pre-squamous cell cancers. They affect many more Americans than melanoma, but the good news is we can often treat them very early. So early, early diagnosis and early treatment is what we're really trying to get," said Dr. Marmur.
Spots are not caused by birthdays. They are the result of sun or tanning beds, which are now considered a Class I carcinogen by many world health groups, on par with tobacco.
"They're not healthy for us period. So even if you go in wearing sun protection, sun screen in there, it's unnecessary amounts of sun. Your body is so great at absorbing the rays it needs to do what it needs to do for vitamin D. So you really don't need any extra sun damage," she insisted.
AK's can be scaly, red or dry and crusty. Patients complain they don't heal. Doctors can use lasers, light, freezing, peels, surgical tools or topical gels to treat AK's. But now there is a brand new easy treatment just FDA approved called Picato.
"The advantage of Picato is that it is a two or three-day treatment. So it's a very quick treatment and this is really going to, I think, revolutionize the treatment topically of actinic keratosis. Previous treatments you had to use anywhere from four to six weeks. Now in two or three days, we can get these lesions to become irritated and then, of course, when you discontinue the medication, they will resolve," said Metairie dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris, who is the national spokeswomen for the American Academy of Dermatology.
"So we know we have like a two year window of opportunity, once we find that we're aging, to treat these pre-cancers and get rid of them before they become important," said Dr. Marmur.
Since 10 percent will become invasive skin cancer, the 58 million American's with AK's need a full body check from a dermatologist.
Doctors say make sure you re-apply sunscreen that is labeled "broad spectrum" every hour.
For more on AK's or to take the quiz:
Aspirin and skin cancer prevention:
Editor's note: Dr. Patricia Farris is no relation to Medical Reporter Meg Farris.