May is Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

May is Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month


How many of you knew May 4th was Melanoma Monday? I sure didn’t. But, I did know it was Star Wars Day – “May the 4th (force) be with you!”

Thus, after reading my daily TWITTER TWEETS, I decided I would provide you with some quick facts and information about MAY IS MELANOMA SKIN CANCER DETECTION AND PREVENTION MONTH.
Summer vacation is quickly approaching and that forever sunburn we swear we will take precautions against is lurking down the road. So here, it goes…

Here are a few facts about Melanoma:

• Melanoma is a cancer that starts in a certain type of skin cell called the melanocytes.**

• This type of skin cell is the color (pigment-producing) cells of the skin.

• Melanoma can occur elsewhere in the body, including, rarely, inside the eye.*

• The most common melanoma sites found in men are the back and other places on the trunk (from the shoulders to the hips) or the head and neck.*

• The most common melanoma sites found in women – the arms and legs.*

• Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer.***

• Approximately 76,000 new cases of Melanoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S.***

• It is also the most aggressive skin cancer, and is most likely to spread to other parts of the body.***

Possible signs of melanoma include a change in the appearance of a mole or pigmented area of the skin. ***

Awareness and examination can directly spot Melanoma in its very early stages – a huge advantage over most other cancers.

Melanoma is highly treatable if caught early. Once it spreads survival rate drops drastically.****

In addition to Melanoma, here are a few facts about Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma:

• Squamous cell carcinoma and Basal cell carcinoma are two other forms of skin cancer.***

• They form in the upper and middle layers of the skin (epidermis), respectively. ***

• Both are classified as “nonmelanoma” and rarely spread to other parts of the body.***

Possible signs of nonmelanoma include unusual changes in the skin, such as areas that are small, raised, smooth or red, or skin that is rough, red and scaly.***

What are the risk factors for melanoma?*****

• People who are exposed to natural or artificial sunlight (such as tanning beds) over long periods of time are at higher risk of developing melanoma.

• Fair skin

• A history of many blistering sunburns, especially as a child or teenager

• Several large or many small moles

• A family history of unusual moles

• A family or personal history of melanoma

• A tendency to freckle or having many moles that are atypical****

What are the symptoms of melanoma?*****

• Look for changes to skin or moles.

• Experts recommend using the “ABCDE Rule:

A – for asymmetry: One-half is shaped differently than the other
B –  for border irregularity: Jagged or blurred edges
C –  for color: The pigmentation is not consistent
D –  for diameter: Moles greater than six millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser)
E  – for evolving: A mole changing in size, shape, or color

• If any of the ABCDE Rules occur, see your doctor immediately. Detecting skin lesions in their earliest changes makes it more treatable.

• Other symptoms of melanoma can include satellite moles (new moles that grow near an existing mole), or areas that ooze, bleed, or are ulcerated.

What are the best ways to prevent melanoma?*****

• Wear sunscreen whenever the skin is exposed to the sun for long periods of time – including year round.

• Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply it often. Don’t forget the neck, ears and hands.

• Make sure sunscreen has not expired.

• Apply lip balm with sunscreen and use makeup with SPF 15 or higher.

• Use eye protection, especially for skiing. Look for wrap-around sunglasses and ski goggles with UV protection.

• Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

• Avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest.

• Be aware of skin changes. Check your skin routinely on a monthly basis. –Learn more from this guide to self-screening from the Melanoma Research Foundation.

Take pictures of the questionable area and refer back to it to check for changes.

Visit your dermatologist with any questions or concerns.

Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention:

• All skin cancers can occur anywhere in the body, but melanoma is most common in skin that is often exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, hands, and arms.***

• The best way to reduce your risk of melanoma is to practice good sun protection, conduct monthly self-exams to look for new or changed moles and birthmarks, and see your physician regularly.***

How is melanoma diagnosed?

A physician will conduct a skin exam to check for any moles or unusual areas of skin. If there is an abnormal patch, the mole or lesion will be removed and a pathologist will check the tissue for cancer cells.









Happy Summer Vacation and respect and pamper your skin…!

And As Always… MARCH FORTH!

Marci A. Schmitt


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