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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month Know the Skin You’re In!

MICHELLE PENNIE, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Every year, there are more skin cancers diagnosed than all other cancers combined.

The good news is that you can do much to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and the team at Paradise Dermatology encourages everyone to learn more about prevention and screening.

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, or from tanning beds and sun lamps. You don’t have to be in the sun for extended periods to do damage. UV exposure adds up every day — every time you are outside.

Sun damage is cumulative over decades, a single sunburn when you’re young can develop into a cancer decades later. Due to use of tanning beds, we now also see a lot of young men and women developing skin cancer.

Staying in the shade (and avoiding tanning beds, sunlamps) are among the best ways to limit UV exposure. But, if you do plan to be in the sun, the ACS recommends you “Slip! Slop! Slap! And Wrap:”

• Slip on a shirt.
• Slop on sunscreen.
• Slap on a hat.
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes andskin around them.

Skin cancer risk factors include family history, light/pale complexion, prior skin cancers and some medications that increase UV sensitivity. However, anyone can get skin cancer, so everyone should practice UV protection and self-screening of the skin.

Skin cancer can be treatable if caught early, and it doesn’t require an X-ray or special medical tests to detect. All you need are your eyes and a mirror. The ACS recommends you examine your skin at least once a month in a well-lit room. Your exam should go from head to toe, including the scalp, bottoms of the feet, between fingers and toes and under finger and toenails. Regular exams will help you know the skin your in, so you’ll know of any are changes.

Beards can hide skin cancer, it’s a good idea for men who’ve worn them for a long time to shave them off once and while to check their face. It could save their lives. People may not think about that … but hair-bearing areas also need to be regularly examined.

Skin cancer takes many shapes and sizes and can develop as flat areas showing only slight changes from normal skin. Things to look for include:
• Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar
• Raised reddish patches that might be itchy
• Small, pink or red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown or black
areas
• Pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in their center, which might contain
abnormal blood vessels
• Open sores that don’t heal, or that heal and then return
• Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower area in the center
• Wart-like growths

Melanomas are less common than basal or squamous cell carcinomas, but are much more likely to spread and be life-threatening.

These cancers develop from the pigment-making skin cells known as melanocytes. The American Cancer Society recommends people know the A-B-C-D-Es of skin cancer (see box).

A lesion that’s new, dark with variegated colors like black surrounded by a brown mole is suggestive of melanoma.

If you find something suspicious, you should go to your primary care provider. If the provider is uncertain what it is, it should be biopsied to be sure.

• A – Asymmetry: One half of a mole orbirthmark does not match the other.
• B – Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
• C – Color: The color is not the same all over — you may see shades of brown or black, or patches of pink, red, white or blue.
• D – Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – size of
a pencil eraser), though some melano-mas can be smaller than this.
• E – Evolving: Mole is changing in size, shape or color

These cancers develop from the pigment-making skin cells known as melanocytes. The American Cancer Society recommends people know the A-B-C-D-Es of skin cancer (see box).

A lesion that’s new, dark with variegated colors like black surrounded by a brown mole is suggestive of melanoma.

If you find something suspicious, you should go to your primary care provider. If the provider is uncertain what it is, it should be biopsied to be sure.

Paradise Dermatology

www.paradisederm.com

Sarasota
Sarasota Office
3355 Clark Road
Suite #101
Sarasota, Florida 34231
941-921-4131

Englewood
699 S. Indiana Ave
Englewood, FL 34223
941-474-8811

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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