May 1 is known as Melanoma Monday

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

May 1 is Melanoma Monday, a nationally recognized day for promoting awareness of the most serious form of skin cancer.

The rate of melanoma has been steadily increasing for at least 30 years. Early detection and prevention are key. Everyone should be aware of the risk that melanoma poses, how to prevent melanoma, and how to monitor skin for melanoma.

Karen Goodale PA-C is a family provider at Advanced Wellness Institute in Columbus. (photo submitted by Desiree Magnant)

One in five will acquire some type of skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma is the type of skin cancer that develops from the pigment containing cells known as melanocytes. Melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancers, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. If detected very early, it can be cured in over 90 percent of cases.

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However, once it has progressed to Stage IV, life expectancy drops to one year. As it progresses, melanoma becomes more dangerous; it can spread to organs such as the liver, lungs, bones and brain.

To determine whether your mole is benign or a malignant melanoma, get a simple procedure done during an office visit.

Health care providers take a section of the suspicious lesion by biopsy and have a pathologist look at it under a microscope. Your risk for developing melanoma increases if: you have light skin, blue eyes, red hair, multiple or atypical moles, or have family or personal history of melanoma. You are also at higher risk if you have a history of sunburns, especially blistering sunburns.

Self-skin exams are easy and can take only ten minutes to perform.

Here is how. Check any skin spots for ABCDEs:

A = Asymmetry. One half shaped differently from the other half.

B = Border. Irregular, scalloped edges.

C = Color. Differently shaded spots. Keep in mind that melanoma can even include red, blue or white shades.

D = Diameter. A spot that is larger than the tip of a pencil eraser.

E = Evolving. A spot that is growing in size, shape or color.

If you think that you see any of these characteristics in a skin spot, seek the advice of your health care provider. Although melanoma can be cured with early detection, preventive measures can easily become habit.

Seek shade. Ultraviolet light is a known carcinogen. UV light comes from the sun and from tanning beds, therefore, protecting your skin from exposure protects your life. Avoid the sun when it is at its highest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you are seek shade.

Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen liberally and often. The best sunscreens have protection against UVA and UVB and are rated 30 and greater SPF. Products that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are the most effective. A higher SPF will not protect you longer, therefore reapply every two hours or if you are in the water or are sweating. The amount you use on your body should fill a one-ounce shot glass. Apply to the face as well. Avoid tanning.

Wear protective clothing. Wear a hat that shades your face and clothing that covers your arms and legs.

Karen Goodale PA-C is a family provider at Advanced Wellness Institute in Columbus. Advanced Wellness Institute in Columbus will have a free skin screening May 1. Appointments can be made between 1 – 5 p.m. by calling 828-894-3494.

– article submitted by Desiree Magnant