May is Melanoma Awareness Month
Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. It is also the most common cancer in women in their twenties. Most of my patients that were diagnosed with melanoma were not aware that they had it. It will not bother you at all in early stages, there will be no pain or any discomfort. You must pay attention to any new lesions that continue to change, especially over a period of 3-4 months. Here are the ABCDE signs that should prompt a visit to your dermatologist.
A-asymmetry. One side of the lesion is different from the other.
B-border. Border should be regular and smooth.
C-color. Lesions should have even color distribution.
D-diameter. Lesions that are larger than 0.5cm.
E-evolution. Change in a lesion.
First step is to have a lesion biopsied. Biopsy will establish a diagnosis. Melanoma treatment depends on its depth. Some treatments like an excision can be performed in our office, but if melanoma is large we will send you to an oncologist or surgeon to discuss treatment options.
Main risk factors for melanoma are family history and sun exposure. You can’t choose your parents, but you can protect yourself from sun exposure. Avoid tanning. Any tan is sun damage. Wear sunglasses, wide brim hat, and apply broad spectrum SPF of at least 30, reapply SPF every 2 hours if you are sweating or in the water. Here are my favorite products for my family and I to reduce damaging sun exposure.
I love these iPlay hats from www.greensproutsbaby.com. They cover the ears and the back of the neck. I also prefer long sleeve rash guards for splashing around in the pool or when we go on vacation. It saves me a hassle from putting sunblock on squiggly kids and provides all day protection.
These are my favorite supplements that I take during the summer. Heliocare is a dietary supplement made from Polypodium leukotomas extract. It provides your body with defense from free radicals and I like to take it because it helps me avoid a sun burn together with a sun block. Go to www.heliocare.com for more information.
I prefer Elta MD sun blocks. These are mineral sunblocks containing zinc oxide. There are many formulations, tinted, for body, for acne prone skin, etc. I prefer them because I get a rash from chemical sunscreens. We carry Elta MD in our office.
This sun shield is my new favorite. It provides coverage to the whole face. Check them out on www.bluestonesunshields.com. I got myself a champagne one and will be rocking it this summer.
Get annual skin checks at your dermatologist, they do save lives.