Melanoma Monday

Posted by Audrey Kunin, MD There have been 0 comments

Melanoma MondayMelanoma Monday and National Skin Examination Day are traditionally the first Monday in May. This event, sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, helps raise public awareness about Malignant Melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer and encourage early detection through screening.

Malignant Melanoma arises from skin growths known as nevi, or "moles" as they are more commonly known. The vast majority of moles are visible on the skin, and brown in color. Rarely, moles may be pink or red, (amelanotic) and there are even moles which can be hidden internally, such as at the back of the eye.

Fortunately, moles don't change into Melanoma overnight. Gradually moles will go through a series of changes (some faster than others) known as dysplasia. The greater the degree of dysplasia, the more likely the mole may turn into melanoma.

Early detection is key since melanoma is almost 100 percent curable if discovered early. Famous people who have survived melanoma include Troy Aikman, Sam Donaldson and Senator John McCain.

While easy to detect, many continue to ignore mole changes. According to The Melanoma Research Foundation, every hour of every day of the year an American dies of malignant melanoma.

While the American Academy of Dermatology doesn't expect the general public to be home dermatologists, there are 5 signs to know that can save your life. These are the official ABCD's
(and now I'd like to unofficially add an E)
of melanoma.

A: Asymmetry. The mole is not completely even in appearance.

B: Border. The margins should be even and smooth, without ratty or projecting edges.

C: Circumference. The mole should be nice and round, without jagged or sharp edges

D: Diameter. The size of the mole should not be more than 6mm measured across the mole. This is the size of a pencil eraser.

E: Evolving (changes) - Any changes over time in size, shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), surface (bleeding, scaling, inflammation), and shades of color.

Other signs to pay close attention to include rapid mole growth, formation of a sore, and itching or bleeding within the mole.

The above signs and symptoms do not automatically mean the mole is malignant or even dysplastic. But, these are definitely a reason to seek out a dermatology evaluation.

Melanoma Monday is also a time to stress the importance of skin cancer prevention. Physicians are attuned to the role that both sun and tanning beds play in the formation of skin cancer, including melanoma.

Protect Your Child

A baby born in the year 2000 stood a 1 in 75 risk of developing melanoma at some point during their lifetime. Much of this is due to a combination of thinning ozone layer and increased sun exposure. Children's skin, prior to the age of 10 is far more susceptible to cancer causing sun damage. Protecting one's children is vital to helping reduce the incidence of malignant melanoma. The importance of sunburn avoidance cannot be stressed enough! The use of sunscreens and sun protective clothing will prevent sun damage to the skin.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Wear a hat with a 4-inch wide brim. Run of the mill baseball hats offer little to no protection; try one with an extra long brim instead.
  • Sunglasses with UVA/UVB coating will help protect your eyes from harmful rays and help prevent melanoma from developing at the back of the eyes. You can look like a fashionista and still protect your eyes from UV rays.
  • Windows and automobile windshields offer little protection to screening the sun's rays unless they have been specially treated. Check with your auto shop if you spend a great deal of time in the car. Think you don't spend much time in the car? According to the National Household Travel Survey of 1995, "soccer" moms spend the equivalent of 17 days (or 408 hours) a year in the car.
  • Don't have special sun protective clothing or don't want to make the investment? Try throwing a single packet of SunGuard in with the wash. It will coat your clothing with an SPF 30 that will last through 20 further wash cycles. It also beats running around after the kids with a bottle of sunscreen to smear over every square inch of their bodies. Take it from me, it's far easier to go for the exposed areas when trying to convince a young child to stand still for sunscreen.
  • Try to avoid the sun between the hours of 12 to 3pm. This is when the sun is at it's strongest.
  • Look for shade tree. It's a proven fact that shade trees do help reduce the amount of UV light that reaches the ground. While not perfect (sitting in the shade is not an excuse to skip the sunscreen), heavy foliage does help filter the sun.
  • Don't forget about protecting your lips. Even the darkest shade of an opaque lipstick only provides an SPF of 4.
  • Wear sunscreen year round. Clouds do little to cut down on UV rays and may actually serve to reflect them and increase your UV exposure.

Sunscreen Savvy

Buy a product with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 for daily wear. Go for higher SPF, preferably 30 when outdoors for a prolonged period of time, such as gardening, exercising, or fishing. And don't forget to reapply every 2 hours while outdoors and immediately after toweling off after swimming.

The label should read that it offers BOTH UVA and UVB protection, aka broad-spectrum protection. If it doesn't say it, it likely doesn't do it! You may want to try our very own Ain't Misbehavin' skin clarifying & mattifying sunscreen spf 30 which is receiving rave reviews from customers and the industry. Uniquely formulated it offers UVA and UVB protection in an oil free, oil-reducing and skin rejuvenating sunscreen.

Complete Skin Exams

There's no reason to feel embarrassed if you want the opinion of an expert. Many people feel uncomfortable trying to judge their own moles. And dermatologists aren't expecting you to play doctor. Melanoma Monday (and the entire month of May) is a great opportunity to visit one of literally thousands of skin cancer screenings across the U.S.

These skin cancer screenings provide an easy method to have skin growths evaluated, usually free of charge. Check the local newspaper and watch for an event near you. Those found to have a suspicious skin lesion should be told to make a doctor appointment for further evaluation. Whether it's through a public skin cancer screening or a trip to your dermatologist, get a baseline complete skin exam and make it a part of your annual general health routine.

This Melanoma Monday, make sure you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. It's easy, painless and vital.

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter. As always, I hope you have found it informative.

Audrey Kunin, M.D.

This content is sponsored by DERMAdoctor. The author receives compensation for its creation. All content is the legal copyright of DERMAdoctor, Inc, and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without written consent.

The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to provide medical, legal or other professional advice.


This post was posted in Articles, Sun Protection and was tagged with sun protection, melanoma, sunscreen

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