May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Early detection is key, and the following article provides vital information in detecting this highly curable cancer. For help with an aging loved one in the Seattle WA area, visit us at www.andelcare.com.
Detect skin cancer early when it’s most curable
(ARA) – Do you know your skin? Beyond your face and hands, which you probably look at every day, do you know what the skin on the inside of your arms or the bottom of your feet looks like? It’s important to know what your skin looks like – every inch of it – so that if a suspicious lesion appears or a mole starts to change, you can make an appointment with a dermatologist to be checked for skin cancer.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has two tools available to ensure that you get to know your skin: instructions for skin self-exams and a free skin cancer screening program.
“Substantially more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed each year,” said dermatologist Dr. William D. James, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “Fortunately, when detected in its earliest stages, skin cancer – including melanoma, the deadliest form – is highly curable. Skin self-exams and skin cancer screenings are important ways to detect the early warning signs of skin cancer, and when necessary, seek treatment from a dermatologist.”
It is vital for everyone to perform regular self-exams to look for moles that are growing or changing, or for any unusual marks that could be a sign of skin cancer. A skin self-examination consists of looking over your entire body, including the back, scalp, soles, between the toes and on the palms. To do a thorough skin exam, find a well-lit location and use both full-length and hand-held mirrors so it is possible to see the back of the head, back and buttocks.
While studying your skin, it’s a good idea to keep the ABCDEs of melanoma detection in mind. The ABCDE rule will give you an idea of what to look for in a changing mole.
* Asymmetry (one half unlike the other half)
* Border (irregular, scalloped or poorly defined)
* Color (varies from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue)
* Diameter (the size of a pencil eraser or larger)
* Evolving (a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color)
If you notice any changes in the size, color, shape or texture of a mole, the development of a new mole, or any other unusual changes in the skin, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately.
In addition, the AAD’s National Skin Cancer Screening Program provides free skin cancer screenings in local communities and teaches people how to conduct skin self-examinations. Since 1985, dermatologists have screened more than 2 million people at no cost and detected more than 188,000 suspicious lesions, including approximately 21,500 suspected melanomas.
Since sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, the AAD recommends that everyone “Be Sun Smart” by following these tips:
* Generously apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
* Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
* Seek shade when appropriate, when the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.
* Protect children from sun exposure. Be sure to play in the shade, use protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.
* Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
* Avoid tanning beds.
To get instructions on how to perform a skin self-examination or to find a free screening, visit www.melanomamonday.org. The website also includes the AAD’s free Body Mole Map, a tool individuals can use to track their moles to determine any changes over time, and more information about skin cancer.
Courtesy of ARAcontent