May is designated as SKIN CANCER awareness month by the American Academy of Dermatology.
We continue to diagnosis and treat multiple cases of melanoma in patients of all ages. Fortunately, most of these cases are diagnosed early and save lives. The continued rise of skin cancers, including melanoma, is astounding. It is vital to recognize the warning signs of skin cancer, particularly melanoma in yourself and family members.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. On average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults age 25-29 and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults age 15-29. Caucasians and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone check his or her skin regularly for any new or suspicious spots. Warning signs of melanoma include A, B, C, D, E’s (asymmetry, irregular border, and irregular color, larger than the head of a pencil eraser, changing or evolving). See melanoma bookmark
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm
- Wear sun protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses when possible
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30 to all exposed skin.
- Reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours, especially after swimming or sweating
- Avoid tanning beds
A valuable resource is the American Academy of Dermatology’s website www.aad.org Public and patients/Spot Skin Cancer. This free online site has many printable skin cancer detection resources as well as a recent video targeting above age 50 men who at an increased risk of developing melanoma.