One would assume a dermatologist would be able to spot skin cancer on herself, but this was not the case for well-known San Antonio, Texas dermatologist, Vivian Bucay, MD, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. The cancer was tucked away, out of sight, inside her belly button. “I had no idea,” she said, “until I saw some flakes of skin in my navel, and I had a skin biopsy to see what might be causing this kind of shedding.” Surprised by the diagnosis of melanoma, she wasted no time and immediately sought treatment and is now cancer-free, but loaded with advice.

“It is sobering to realize how insidious skin cancer, and particularly, melanoma, can be,” she said. “It makes the idea of routine body checks with a dermatologist such an imperative for everyone. For people with all kinds of freckles and moles, these checks should be performed more often.”

Was the sun responsible for Dr. Bucay’s melanoma? “No one can say for sure, I certainly did my share of sunbathing in my teens before we realized how dangerous this is,” she explains. “But I was really lucky to have had great medical care and believe more strongly than ever in getting anything and everything that looks, even vaguely suspicious, checked out.”

As the month of May brings skin cancer into focus, Dr. Bucay has a routine to share for protecting one’s skin from the sun and it includes a number of products. “Sun protection is far more encompassing than simply applying a sunscreen,” she says. Here is what is in her arsenal:

  • An SPF 50 physical/mineral sunscreen – every day, rain or shine, and applied before putting on your swimsuit to protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • Oral CoQ10 and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
  • A daily dose of Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE), a dietary supplement derived from a tropical fern. She recommends Heliocare® because it is backed by 30 years of study.
  • Getting Vitamin D levels tested, because this vitamin plays an important role in regulation of the immune mechanism in the body
  • Use of topical antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, green tea polyphenols, and red tea flavonoids

“Your skin contains a type of white blood cell called a Langerhans cell that is very sensitive to UVA and UVB radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed; they can be depleted in 15 minutes worth of sun exposure,” Dr. Bucay explains. Langerhans cells, found in the epidermis, are an essential part of the immune system. They work by capturing antigens (agents that can trigger a reaction, such as infections, allergic reactions, and cancer) that get into the skin and present them to immune system cells that create a mechanism to fight them off¹. “So you really need to protect your skin on many levels,” she stresses. “This is why adding products such as Heliocare (Polypodium leucotomos extract)is so important. PLE is skin specific, and not only helps to decrease sensitivity to UVA and UVB rays, it also works as an antioxidant.*”

Don’t wait until the summer arrives to institute a regimen of protective skincare, advises this expert, who can speak from personal experience. “The climate has changed,” she emphasizes, “and we have to adapt our routines as well to live long and healthy lives.”

Heliocare® retails for $29.99 and can be purchased at Walgreens and Rite Aid locations nationwide. For more information, please visit

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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The powerful antioxidant formula in each capsule of HELIOCARE® is derived from the extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a fern native to Central and South America that has been used for centuries as a remedy for skin related conditions. This fern, which was once an aquatic plant, adapted to life on land and created its own protection from exposure to harsh UV rays. By utilizing the extract of this organically grown plant, HELIOCARE® delivers antioxidants that helps the skin protect itself from the first day of use*.

About Dr. Vivian Bucay:

Board certified dermatologist, Vivian Bucay, in private practice in San Antonio, TX, is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She maintains membership in numerous medical societies, and serves as a faculty member for a number of continuing medical education initiatives throughout the United States. A leader in her field, Dr. Bucay is also a well-known Physician Member of the Liquid Face Lift Association and is part of the editorial board of Modern Aesthetics.