In case you missed it, May was Melanoma Awareness Month. It was the perfect month for this reminder because we’re all gearing up for fun in the sun all summer. Did you know that skin cancer and melanoma account for about 50% of all the types of cancer diagnosed combined? And, of that 50% of diagnosed skin cancers, 90% of those were caused by overexposure to the sun. 80,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. 1 in 50 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime. Melanoma kills one person every 50 minutes. Have I gotten your attention yet?
What to look for:
- A small lump (spot or mole) that is shiny, waxy, pale in color and smooth
- A red lump (spot or mole) that is firm
- A sore or spot that bleeds or becomes crusty, or a sore that won’t heal
- Flat scaly areas on the skin that are red or brown
- Any new growth that is suspicious
Research has shown that patients, not doctors, are most likely to spot melanoma because they are most familiar with changes on their skin. If skin cancer is caught early it is treatable!
- Wear sunscreen that is broad spectrum and has an SPF of 30 or higher
- Limit your time in the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Get checked annually by your dermatologist
- Wear protective clothing like hats, sunglasses and long sleeves
- Know your skin and check it for any changes
This article was prompted by several dear friends who have struggled with melanoma. In particular, my friend Lisa Lynn, who was diagnosed with melanoma in January. She had a successful surgery and is dedicating herself to spreading the word about melanoma prevention. A Sharp Eye wanted to help.
For more information about spotting a potential skin cancer learn about the ABCDEs of Melanoma.
To read Lisa Lynn’s account of her melanoma experience go to My Melanoma Miracle, Part 1: Lisa Lynn
To read an interview with Lisa Lynn about her melanoma go to http://wtnh.com.
There is a great deal of melanoma research toward a cure. In particular, Yale Cancer Center has a Melanoma Program that was developed over 25 years ago. Their goal is to discover new treatments and provide state of the art treatments for patients with melanoma. The program brings together scientists, melanoma surgeons, medical oncologists, dermatologists, pathologists, dermatopathologists, radiologists, geneticists and psychotherapists.
If you’d like to make a donation to Yale Plastic Surgery Melanoma Research go to https://www.givetoynhh.org.
ASE has a few articles on sun protective gear like this one,
and this one,