Summer is in full swing and with beaches and other activities reopening, it's important to maintain good sun safety and an awareness of the risks of excessive sun exposure. Without a proper sunscreen, the sun's harmful rays that can cause sunburns that can quickly lead to skin cancer or melanoma.
Though melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer within the United States, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Approximately 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 85% of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. By raising awareness of the dangers of unprotected exposure and encouraging sun-safe habits, behaviors can be changed and lives can be saved.
It's imperative to talk about melanoma prevention, as well as how to properly detect it. The guideline "ABCDE" is extremely useful for identifying malignant melanoma:
- Asymmetry: Where one side of the lesion or mole does not look like the other. If the lesion or mole is divided into half, and the halves are not equal or identical, then it is asymmetrical.
- Border Irregularity: Where the margins around the mole or lesion may be notched or irregular.
- Color: Melanomas are often a mixture of black, brown, blue, red, or white.
- Diameter: Cancerous lesions can be larger than 6mm across, typically the size of a pencil eraser. With early detection, they won't reach this size.
- Evolution: Has the mole or lesion changed in color, size, or shape over time?
Many people, especially those who have fair coloring or have had extensive sun exposure, periodically should check their bodies for suspicious moles and lesions. Have your primary health care doctor, or a dermatologist check any moles or spots that concern you. See your doctor if you notice any changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of pigmented areas.
Please consult a qualified health care professional before beginning any medication, taking any supplements, or beginning a new health regimen.