How Do You Know If You Have Melanoma

April 28, 2015

Live Longer :
By Detecting Skin Cancer Earlier

May is Melanoma awareness month. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer that if caught early has a high rate of cure when surgically removed. Be aware of melanoma, too many lives have been lost that may have been saved through early detection of this skin cancer.

How Do You Know If You Have Melanoma?

Look at your moles. Follow the ABCs when deciding if you need to have a mole checked by your Dermatologist. ‘A’ stands for asymmetry, meaning, if you draw an imaginary line through your mole does it look the same on both sides? ‘B’ stands for border, are the edges of the mole smooth? Or jagged like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle?

‘C’ stands for color, is there any black in the mole? Are there different shades of brown, black or red? Normal moles are usually all one shade of color. But if ANY of your moles look black, that could be a sign of melanoma and you should have it checked. ‘D’ stands for diameter, is it bigger than a pencil eraser? And finally ‘E’ stands for evolving, is the mole changing? Is it get-ting larger, changing color etc?

Find A Free Skin Cancer Screening

The month of May has many free skin cancer screenings being conducted. The American Academy of Dermatology web site has a Find a Free SPOT me® Skin Cancer Screening tool, which allows you to click on a state and find a free skin cancer screening in your area.

The Most Common Skin Cancer — Basal Cell Carcinoma

While melanoma may be the deadliest skin cancer, it is not the most common one. The most common skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). Many women in their prime will get BCC.

I myself have had two BCCs on my face which is the most common location although they can also be found on the chest, back, arms and legs. While we will not die from a BCC, we will get a scar from the surgical removal of the BCC. Again, the earlier we detect this cancer the smaller will be the scar that we may get from having it removed. If you notice a pimple-like spot on your face that will not heal or go away after three months, get it checked by a dermatologist.

How To Prevent Skin Cancer And Wrinkles

Oh the sun, we love the sun, its benefits are many but too much sun causes skin cancer AND wrinkles. I am paying for the sun tanning I did in my youth with two facial BCCs and premature wrinkling. How do we prevent them? Wear a moisturizer every day with SPF 30 or greater, make sure it has either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which will physically block the sun’s rays. We sell Elta MD sunscreen from the office, check out our special for this great product this month in honor of Melanoma Awareness. Wear hats if you are going to be outside. Do not go to a tanning bed and pass on that advice to your children. Do not lay out in the sun between 11:00am and 3:00 pm. If you are at the pool or beach at noon try to get under an umbrella and wear clothing and sunscreen to protect your skin.

Have fun this summer, use common sense, and avoid sunburn!!