Know the warning skins of skin cancer! Generally moles, brown spots and growths on your skin are harmless, but it’s important to regularly screen yourself for skin abnormalities. To help, doctors have come up with a warning sign acronym to help you keep track of your moles. This is called the ABCDE’s of Melanoma. A: Asymmetry: The benign mole, left, is not asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match, meaning it is symmetrical. If you draw a line through the mole on the right,, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma. B: Border A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched. C: Color Most benign moles are all one color — often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue. D: Diameter Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected. E: Evolving Common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger. Please call your doctor immediately if you think you have any of ABCDE warning signs.
April showers, bring May flowers... and May sun exposure! May also happens to be Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month to help bring awareness to the dangers of of skin cancer and the affects it can have on your skin. Skin Cancer Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV rays can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. Warning Signs Warning signs of melanoma include moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless — but not always. Anyone who has more than 100 moles is at greater risk for melanoma. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles. That's why it's so important to get to know your skin very well and to recognize any changes in the moles on your body. Look for signs of melanoma, and if you see one or more, make an appointment with a physician immediately. The good news? Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. But if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. In 2016, an estimated 76,380 of these will be invasive melanomas, with about 46,870 in males and 29,510 in women.Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to prevent skin cancer or detect it early on. This month, spread the word about strategies for preventing skin cancer and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved. And talk to your doctor about your skin cancer risks.
Many people head to the beach for spring break, or use it as a great opportunity to spend time outdoors. More often than not that also means you’re spending time outside in the sun.You are pretty good about applying sunscreen, but how often should you be applying it? Some common sunscreen ingredients, including the physical (or mineral) blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, can make the skin look white, at least until the product is adequately absorbed. These sunscreens physically “block” skin from the sun, and they have several advantages. They tend to work immediately, unlike chemical sunscreens, which need to be absorbed before they work effectively. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide also screen out a wide range of the sun’s cancer-causing ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation - zinc oxide, in particular, effectively blocks all parts of the UV spectrum. Protection from both UVA and UVB is necessary, and some chemical sunscreens don’t provide comparably broad- spectrum defense. Also, physical blockers are preferred for young children’s sensitive skin, and for people who may have concerns about certain ingredients in chemical sunscreens. It is very unlikely that you’re applying too much sunscreen — most people don’t apply enough, which is why undesirable sunburns and tanning can occur despite sunscreen application. To achieve the Sun Protection Factor (SPF, which protects against the sun’s UVB radiation) reflected on a bottle of sunscreen, you should use approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. In practice, this means applying the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body – a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone. If you’re using a spray, apply until an even sheen appears on the skin. Remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently after swimming, heavy perspiration, or toweling off. Also remember, no matter how much sunscreen you apply, the SPF should be 15 or higher for adequate protection – and ideally 30 or higher for extended time spent outdoors. In addition to using sunscreen, seek shade whenever possible, and wear sun-protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses. For more information about sunscreen, talk to your doctor.
Each year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the United States and the number of diagnosed cases continue to rise. Treatment has increased by nearly 77% over the past three decades and more people are becoming aware of the impact of skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are types of skin cancers that start in the basal cells or squamous cells of the skin, which is how they get their names. These cells are found in the outer layer of the skin. Most basal and squamous cell cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the skin, like the face, ears, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Basal cell cancers grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. Squamous cell cancers are more likely to grow into deeper layers of skin and to spread, although this is still not common. Both basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early – when they are small and have not spread. But either type can cause problems if it is left untreated. Melanoma, the form of cancer we hear about most in the news, is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes – the cells that make the brown skin pigment known as melanin, which gives the skin its color. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma can start on nearly any part of the skin, even in places that are not normally exposed to the sun, such as the genital or anal areas. It can also start in other parts of the body, such as in the eyes or mouth. Melanoma is almost always curable when it’s found in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancers, it’s much more likely to grow and spread to other parts of the body, where it can be hard to treat. Because of this, melanoma causes most skin cancer deaths, accounting for nearly 10,000 of the more than 13,000 skin cancer deaths each year. Skin cancer can be found early, and both people and their doctors play important roles in finding skin cancer. If you have any concerns about your skin and the possibility of an abnormality on your skin, contact your doctor right away.