Study Reveals That Melanoma May Have Hidden Biomarkers

17AID07_Blog_SanfordHurnham_melanoma_72Melanoma is always a concern for those living in the Sunshine State. Not only are residents exposed to harmful rays year round, many older men and women retire to Florida to lay in the sun during their senior years. As Michael Steppie, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Florida State University, has often pointed out, the incidence of melanoma in men above the age of 65 is twice as high as the rate in women. By age 80, the rate triples. With older men being the largest high-risk group, melanoma prevention and early detection is especially important in reducing the mortality rate for this group. After all, research suggests that nearly 90 percent of melanomas could be preventable.

Dr. Steppie recently collaborated with Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., associate professor at Sanford Burnham Presbys Medical Discovery Institute at Lake Nona and other colleagues to study new biomarkers that could potentially provide earlier and more reliable clinical diagnostics for the deadliest form of skin cancer. In the past, many dermatologists warned vitiligo patients suffering from the disorder that generates white patches on their skin that they could be at a higher risk for skin cancer. It seemed to be a reasonable warning as sufferers lack the natural protection of the skin pigment melanin. However, more recent studies into the genetics of vitiligo revealed that the genes, which increase the risk of vitiligo may simultaneously decrease the person’s risk for melanoma.*

In the past, it was believed that vitiligo was an autoimmune disorder, but the research studies at Sanford Burnham Prebys have identified a microRNA called miR-211 as a possible culprit. The role of microRNAs are to prevent gene expression. Since damaged vitiligo skin cells are void of this RNA, it appears to be a disease involving abnormal cellular energy metabolism. While going from target to treatment could take time, identifying miR-211 and the genes it regulates could be promising therapeutic targets. Presently, Perera and Steppie are working to launch large -scale studies that could verify the promising findings published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

As a noted Florida dermatologist and long-time advocate of melanoma prevention, Dr. Steppie offers these sun safety tips for all people who live in warm regions:

  • Remember that all skin types can develop skin cancer including people who tan easily or have naturally dark skin.
  • Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin — even on cloudy days — year-round.
  • Use a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 SPF.
  • Apply approximately one ounce of sunscreen (a shot-glassful) 15 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat (preferably sun-protective clothing, accessories and swimwear carrying a UPF 50+ label) and UV-Blocking sunglasses.
  • Seek shade when possible. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Water, snow and sand reflect and magnify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn. Especially during peak hours while at the beach, stay in the shade from an umbrella carrying a UPF 50+.
  • Avoid tanning beds – there is no way to get a tan through UV exposure without increasing the risk for skin cancer. Using a tanning bed before age 35 increases your risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
  • Be aware that certain prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight
  • Sun-proof your car windows with UVA-filtering window glass or film.

Source: Melanoma Research Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology

*NOTE: Having vitiligo does not mean you cannot get skin cancer, so it is very important for those with the disorder to use recommended forms of sun protection and visit his or her dermatologist for regular checkups. In addition to increasing the risk of skin cancer, sunburn can make vitiligo worse.

Experience Dr. Steppie’s Targeted Skincare Regimen – A Whole New Way to Love Your Skin!


Because everyone’s skin is unique, there’s simply no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to skincare. That’s why Dr. Michael Steppie, of Orlando-based Associates in Dermatology is introducing his Targeted Skincare Regimen in all 12 Central Florida locations. Whether you’re suffering acne, experiencing signs of aging, preparing for a skincare procedure (like a chemical peel or laser treatment) or healing from one, Dr. Steppie has a skincare solution customized just for you.

Dr. Steppie’s foremost product is his Ethereal Beauty™ – Anti Aging Cellular Serum, a pro organic skincare serum supercharged with 95 percent certified organic elements like rare sequoia tree stem cells, kelp extract and the potent inner gel of the highest quality aloe vera. Since its introduction, positive client testimonials have rolled in weekly – all detailing the stunning results patients have experienced with Ethereal Beauty™, which can be used by patients with any and every skin type, and has proven highly effective for both women and men.

But unique skincare needs call for unique products. To that end, Dr. Steppie is introducing nine all-new products designed for various individual skincare issues. A few of the most in-demand are:

  • Smooth Radiance: An intensive moisturizing serum that features a high dose of 18% hyaluronic acid (the body’s natural moisturizer and lubricant), plus two cutting edge complexes clinically proven to help repair and revitalized sagging skin. Smooth Radiance pulls double duty, maximizing the anti-aging benefits of other skincare products when applied beneath.
  • Virtuous Eyes: An intensive eye repair serum clinically proven to visibly reduce the appearance of under eye dark circles and puffiness, and minimize lines and wrinkles by diminishing depth and boosting volume. This high performance eye care is loaded with a patented rejuvenating complex that includes eight powerful anti-puffiness and anti-dark circles additives, seven moisture boosters, eight anti-oxidants and multiple repairing nutrients like fatty acids and kelp extract.

Other new products sure to impress are Dr. Steppie’s Eternal Bliss, a luxurious replenishing night cream that lends a rested and refreshed look come morning; and Divine Appeal, a potent retinol serum that exfoliates and renews skin, improving the skin’s texture, minimizing pores and evening pigmentation.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and sun protection is THE foundational factor in great skincare. It’s the single most important preventative measure against skin aging and skin cancer. That’s why Dr. Steppie focused so much effort on creating high quality sun protection products. The new Infinity UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50+ is available in two formulas (cream and spray). Both weightless formulas are free of chemical sun filters, and are made with multiple anti-oxidants plus a pure physical sunscreen, micronized zinc oxide, which leaves a transparent finish while providing up to 50 times your skin’s natural protection from sunburn.

So next time you visit Associates in Dermatology, make sure to take home a brochure (or call us toll-free at 800-827-SKIN to request one) and talk with our expert skincare professionals to determine which of Dr. Steppie’s new targeted formulas is best for your specific needs.

Associates in Dermatology Kicks off New UV INDEX Campaign on Orlando’s Fox 35


For the third consecutive year, at springtime, Dr. Michael Steppie, puts his expertise to good work, keeping TV viewers aware of the potential harm associated with increased sun exposure. His practice, Associates in Dermatology sponsors Fox 35’s UV Index feature, and his awareness campaign kicked off last Friday and will run throughout the summer. While most tune in to see if the day holds beach-time weather, Dr. Steppie wants to remind viewers to protect themselves while basking in the summer sunshine.

Associates in Dermatology’s team of top-notch skincare professionals has been treating patients for 25 years and earned a reputation as one of the region’s leading skin cancer dermatology practices. Dr. Steppie has a long track record of encouraging proactive skincare among Central Florida residents. After all, we enjoy near year-round warm weather, which means many days at the beach, in the water or on the golf course. And that daily exposure to both UVA & UVB rays poses a significant risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

UVB rays, also called “burning” rays are shorter rays. Their intensity varies depending on the season, the time of the day, altitude as well as the distance from the equator. UVA, “aging” rays penetrate about twice as deep into the skin (dermis) and are more constant year-round. Simply walking from your house to your mailbox and driving in your car exposes you to almost 70 percent of UVA radiation! And did you know that 60%-80% of UVA rays penetrate clouds and 50% pass through window glass? 

Remember that EVERYONE should play it safe in the sun. Those with darker skin tones often believe they’re at a lesser risk for cancer. But studies confirm that just the opposite is true. For instance, over the past two decades, melanoma incidence among Hispanics has risen nearly 20 percent. The truth is that anyone can be at risk for developing skin cancer – no matter their ethnic group or skin tone.

The UV (ultraviolet) Index is an international standard measurement of the strength of the UV radiation from the sun at a particular place on a particular day. It’s used in weather forecasts to help people protect themselves from the dangers of UV light.

Here is a breakdown of recommendations according to the UV Index: 

uv chart

So, as you make your summertime plans, particularly in light of our on-and-off sunny days we’ve had here in Central Florida since early spring, keep in mind that soaking in the sun carries serious risk. And keep in mind that UV radiation is present every day, even when it is cloudy. So, don’t let clouds tempt you to skimp on preventative measures!

Also, be sure to tune in to Fox 35’s daily UV Index program, or go online at :, to find out just how strong the sun’s rays will shine each day before you venture out.


Associates in Dermatology Celebrates 25 Years of Serving Friends & Family in Central Florida


While celebrating the holidays, Associates in Dermatology is also celebrating its silver anniversary, honoring 25 years of serving family and friends in the Central Florida area. We say “family and friends” because that’s just how. Michael Steppie, MD and staff view our patients.

Associates in Dermatology was founded in 1989 by Dr. William Steele, a board-certified dermatologist and well respected Mohs micrographic surgeon. Dr. Steppie, also a nationally renowned Mohs surgeon who is board-certified in Dermatology and completed an Internal Medicine residency, joined the practice 10 years ago and today is owner, president and medical director of the award-winning practice. Over the past quarter century, Orlando-based Associates in Dermatology’s leaders and staff have dedicated themselves to delivering unrivaled care to patients, while growing the firm to 11 locations located in 6 Central Florida counties.

Throughout Dr. Steppie’s time at Associates in Dermatology, his highly influential work has earned him a mantle full of prestigious awards and recognitions, including the Patient’s Choice award for three consecutive years. But far more importantly, he also has been an ardent supporter of the Central Florida community in ways that go far beyond his routine practice. Via numerous affiliations with charities and foundations, Dr. Steppie and the Associates in Dermatology staff have provided free medical care to the region’s uninsured and indigent. And, Dr. Steppie, an elite member of the prestigious Amonette Circle of the Skin Cancer Foundation, passionately and continuously works to spread the word about skin cancer risks, treatments and preventative measures.

By far, the most important gift you can give yourself this holiday season is the gift of good health. Take care throughout the remainder of the holiday season and resolve to make healthy lifestyle choices throughout 2014. And remember that when it comes to skincare and beauty, Associates in Dermatology is always there for you.

From Dr. Steppie and the entire Associates in Dermatology staff, have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year.

Associates in Dermatology Giving Back to the Community and Dedicated to Top Quality Care


For nearly 25 years the leaders and staff of Orlando-based Associates in Dermatology have dedicated themselves to delivering an unrivaled level of care to patients and to serving the Central Florida community. Founded in 1989, the practice offers both cosmetic and clinical dermatology to help keep patients looking their beautiful best. But its specialty is saving lives.

Skin cancer is the No. 1 most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually. That is why Associates in Dermatology, led by Dr. Michael Steppie, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin cancer. One thing is for sure – the people of Central Florida, where the practice has grown to ten locations, are in very capable hands.

In fact, Dr. Steppie is a nationally recognized expert in skin cancer and advanced skin cancer treatment – namely, Mohs surgery. He was also Central Florida’s first to introduce Superficial Radiation Therapy, a cutting edge technology that provides a less invasive alternative to surgical procedures for specific types of skin cancers.

Steppie’s highly influential work has earned him a mantle full of prestigious awards and recognitions but it is not accolades that drive Dr. Steppie and his dedicated support staff. He and his team of health care providers are passionate about spreading the word about skin cancer and saving lives.

Through affiliations with numerous charities and foundations for years, Associates in Dermatology has been providing free medical care to Central Florida’s uninsured and indigent. Each year, Dr. Steppie and his dedicated staff also perform free skin cancer screenings during the Skin Cancer Foundation’s annual Road to Healthy Skin Tour and within the practice, particularly during May, designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month nationwide.

Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Dr. Steppie and the Associates in Dermatology team firmly believe this and are passionate about living lives that serve their patients and their community.

Give Dad the Gift of a Longer, Healthier Life with a Skin Cancer Screening for Father’s Day


Father’s Day is this weekend. Show your Dad how much you truly care by scheduling a skin cancer screening at Associates in Dermatology. After all, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and the mortality rate for men with the disease is nearly twice as high as for women, particularly for men of the Baby Boomer generation.

Consider these statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation

  • In 2012, upwards of 44,250 men were newly diagnosed with melanoma;
  • Of them, nearly 6,060 died;
  • These figures represent 12,250 more cases and 2,940 more deaths for men than for women;
  • Nearly half of all melanoma skin cancers occur in men over age 50;
  • Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increased mortality rate for men.

Of course, an American dad will celebrate Father’s Day with a cookout, a day at the beach or a few rounds on the golf course – favorite pastimes for men of all ages. Golf alone can expose men to hours upon hours of sun exposure, particularly on courses that feature water ponds and sand traps, which can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation back on players. In fact, in just one hour, recreational golfers can be hit with 3.5 to 5.4 times the amount of UV rays required to cause a sunburn.

But chances are the dad you love is far less mindful of protecting his skin than are the ladies in his life. Adult men over age 40 have the highest annual UV exposure, and most melanoma diagnoses are for Caucasian men over age 50.

“Women pay far more attention to their skin and take precautions to protect it early,” says Dr Michael Steppie of the Skin Cancer Foundation and Associates in Dermatology. “That’s where men can learn something valuable – even potentially life-saving – from women.”

Dr. Steppie encourages men of all ages to take a cue from the ladies.

“Limit your sun exposure and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every time you go into the sun,” he recommends. “And if you notice a change in the color, size or texture of an existing mole, see a dermatologist immediately.”

Dr. Steppie also recommends having a professional skin cancer screening each year and performing self examinations every two to three months, especially for active outdoorsmen.

Fathers are precious to their children, their wives and others. They are our protectors, providers, lovers and friends. If you’re a woman, never underestimate your influence in keeping men you love informed about important health issues and risks. Talk to your father, husband, son, brother or any other man for whom you care about skin cancer. Remind them that if caught early, most skin cancers are curable. But if not treated promptly, they can cause disfigurement and even death.

Show the men you love the most how much you care and call 800-827-SKIN (7546) to schedule a consultation and skin cancer screening at Associates in Dermatology.

To read more more about the article Dr. Steppie wrote, as an elite member of the Amonette Circle, for the Skin Cancer Foundation in 2012 – Skin Cancer & the Gender Gap – click on the following link:

Dr. Steppie Urges Men’s Health Readers to Man Up Against Skin Cancer

Men can take a cue from women when it comes to skin care and avoiding skin cancer.

Listen up, men! You can learn a thing or two about skin care and your skin cancer risk from the women in your life, says Associates in Dermatology’s Dr. Michael Steppie, M.D. He was featured in a recent Men’s Health article titled “What Men can Learn about Health from Women.”

In the article, Dr. Steppie and other medical specialists echo the sentiment of psychologist Will Courtenay, Ph.D.: “Men consistently misperceive their level of risk,” he says.

And you know he’s right. Men are notorious for skipping visits to the doctor and other health precautions, even when they’re in pain. But all that machismo won’t help when what might have been a simple, easily treatable medical condition goes untreated for too long and becomes a more serious or even life-threatening issue.

One of those oft-ignored issues is the risk of skin cancer. Athletes, outdoorsmen and men who work outside are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays for hours, yet they often skip recommended precautions such as sunscreen and protective clothing.

“Women pay attention to their skin and take precautions early,” said Dr. Steppie, a board-certified dermatologist and internal medicine specialist who is a member of the prestigious Amonette Circle of Skin Care Foundation. “So should you.”

Dr. Steppie, a highly qualified MOHS micrographic skin cancer surgeon, notes that skin cancer is the most common cancer among men. In fact, upwards of 44,250 men were newly diagnosed with melanoma in 2012, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Of them, 6,060 died. Those figures represent 12,250 more diagnosed cases and 2,940 more deaths than women.

If you’re a male who spends any amount of time outside, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. And if you notice a mole changing in color, size or texture, see a doctor, stat. Man up and take control of your health and your life. Contact Associates in Dermatology at 800-827-SKIN (7546) or via our convenient online form and schedule a consultation with an experienced skin specialist.