We All Have Skin in the Game: Dermatology in Alaska.

Author:Mottl, Judy

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States--it's estimated that more than 9,500 people in America are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and, on average, one American dies of melanoma every hour. "In 2018, it is estimated that 9,320 deaths will be attributed to melanoma: 5,990 men and 3,330 women," according to the organization.

Up to 50 million Americans are affected by acne, which the American Academy of Dermatology says is the most common skin condition in the United States. Other common skin ailments include atopic dermatitis (affecting nearly 28 million Americans of all ages), hair loss (80 million Americans), psoriasis (approximately 7.5 million Americans), and rosacea (16 million Americans).

Skin conditions run the gamut of being temporary and generally benign to life altering or threatening, and it is often difficult for the lay person to identify which is which. Information is readily available to assist people that may have a concern about a skin condition or abnormality. For instance, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, "Skin cancer warning signs include changes in size, shape, or color of a mole or other skin lesion; the appearance of a new growth on the skin; or a sore that doesn't heal." However, the organization recommends that when people have questions or concerns about their skin they seek out a board-certified dermatologist.

Dermatologists in Alaska

Dr. Peter Ehrnstrom is a dermatologic surgeon practicing at the Alaska Center for Dermatology. He says that his personal experience with melanoma led him to a career in dermatology: his father died of a melanoma, and six weeks later Ehrnstrom himself discovered his own melanoma, which was successfully treated. The difference in the two cases, he says, is that his was caught early and his father's was detected late.

Born and raised in Michigan, Ehrnstrom graduated from the University of Michigan and then attended medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College. After an internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a residency in dermatology at Yale University, he joined "the Air Force, which paid for my undergraduate, brought me on active duty to Elmendorf, and I've stayed here since," he says.

He is one of several dermatologists who provide services at the Alaska Center for Dermatology. He says the number and range of dermatological services offered by the Alaska Center for Dermatology sets...

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