May Is Melanoma Awareness Month
May is a beautiful time of the year. Temperatures are still bearable. . .for now anyway! Although temperatures are bearable, the UV index is already in the high range. What that means for you, is being more aware of keeping your skin protected on a daily basis.
Loving the outdoors and enjoying the sunshine is healthy. We all need vitamin D and being outdoors is the best form of vitamin D we can get. Even though we need that daily dose of vitamin D we have to be smart about the length of time we spend outside and the sun protection we use.
The last thing anyone wants to hear from their dermatologist is, “you have skin cancer”.
There are 3 kinds of skin cancer: Basal cell, Squamous Cell and Cutaneous Melanoma. Skin melanoma is a rare but aggressive cancer.
According to the Cancer Foundation, there are 76,000 new diagnoses per year in the United States. Cutaneous melanoma is not the most prevalent but it is the most aggressive. Unlike basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma often spreads widely to other parts of the body.
While it represents just 4% of skin cancers, melanoma accounts for about 80% of skin cancer-related deaths. That’s 9,000 people each year—or one person per hour.” Decision Dx
Besides being exposed to intense ultra violet radiation from the sun and tanning beds, people can have a genetic predisposition to melanoma. Melanoma originates in a skin cell called melanocytes which helps produce the pigments in our skin, hair and eyes.
Lighter complexions are more at risk for skin melanoma because they are least protected against UV radiation. Those people with a family history of melanoma, a weakened immune system or use tanning beds are also at an increased risk. Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in men and the second fastest growing cancer in women.
How do you recognize cutaneous melanoma? Use the ABCDE method.
A – asymmetry, one half of a mole does not match the other half. Normal moles are symmetrical.
B – border, edges of a mole are ragged, blurred or irregular.
C – color, a mole that does not have the same color throughout.
D – diameter, a mole that is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
E – evolving, a mole that is shrinking, growing larger, changes color, begins to itch or bleed.
A good rule of thumb is to have a yearly skin check with a dermatologist. Skin cancer can show up in many different areas of the body such as the scalp, the bottom of feet, in between toes & fingers, groin area and the back of knees. Having a complete body scan is just being smart. It’s better to hear, “there’s nothing wrong” as opposed to, “you have skin cancer”.
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