If you answered "yes" to any of these: You are at risk! Is there skin cancer on your nose, ears, or face? Are you at risk! Visit your dermatologist and get checked! Always remember, prevention is the best medicine. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here are my 10 helpful tips for sun protection:
1. Avoid the midday sun as much as possible.
2. Wear a hat and protective clothing.
3. Apply sunscreen frequently.
4. Wear sunglasses that block UV radiation.
5. Beware of photosensitive medications.
6. Beware of sunscreen allergies. Use a PABA free sunscreen.
7. Beware of reflective surfaces like water and snow.
8. Avoid tanning parlors.
9. Teach your children sun protection at an early age.
10. Watch for the National Weather Service UV Index.
Most people have a number of small colored spots on their bodies-moles, freckles, and birthmarks. The average young adult has at least twenty-five brown moles. A few of these spots are present at birth, while most others develop throughout life. Most moles are normal and will remain normal for life. However, a change in a mole or other spot on the skin may be the first sign of any early malignant melanoma or other form of skin cancer.
Malignant melanoma is a serious skin cancer that arises in moles or in the tanning cells of the skin. In its early stages, when it can be easily treated, the disease is not life threatening. But in later stages, malignant melanoma spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body. At this point, treatment is not always successful. People at high risk of developing melanoma are those who have:
- A family history of melanoma, or who have had a melanoma in the past.
- Unusual moles on the skin, or changing moles.
- Fair skin, light hair and eye color, who sunburn easy or tan with difficulty.
- A record of painful or blistering sunburns as children or teenagers.
- Indoor occupations and outdoor recreational habits.
The ABCD's of Moles & Melanomas
Regular self-examination is the best way to become familiar with many moles and spots on the skin, including hard-to-see areas (mouth, back, scalp, buttocks, etc.). Common moles and malignant melanomas may or may not look alike. You should inspect your moles and pay special attention to their sizes, shapes, edges, and colors. A way to remember important suspicious features is to think of A-B-C and D for Asymmetry, Border, Color, and Diameter. Is it a melanoma? Ask A,B,C,D.
1. Is there a family history of melanoma?
2. Do family members have many moles?
3. Is there a history of a sunburned mole?
4. Are there symptoms? Is the mole:
Growing? Changing in Color?
Bleeding? Itching? Scaling?
Two ABCD's positive out of five may be a sign that your mole needs a biopsy.