Melanoma is a deadly disease but often curable if caught early
As skin cancer awareness month kicks off, it’s a good reminder of the do's and don’ts in the sun.
It’s estimated that over two-hundred thousand cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021.
Siri Knutsen-Larson, M.D, with Monument Health Dermatology, says, “Some important statistics to mention are that melanoma incidence has doubled since 1982. It is one of the fastest growing malignancies we see likely related to better detection of the disease but also likely related to more intense sun use and tanning bed use.”
The good news is that melanoma is highly curable when detected early. And according to Knutsen-Larson, our number one defense is sunscreen of an SPF of 30 to 50 and water resistant and reapplying as recommended.
She also recommends performing a skin self-check and the ABCDE’s of early detection, Knutsen-Larson says, “So A stands for a Asymmetry meaning you can’t fold the mole over evenly on each other. B, means an irregular border. C means color, so the colors that I tell people to watch for are the colors of the flag plus black so if you see any other those colors you should be concerned. D is diameter so greater than 6 millimeters, so it’s a pencil size eraser. The most important of all of these is E which stands for evolution so if you note something changing on your skin and it’s not worth waiting, we loose many young patients to this disease unfortunately.”
Other ways to protect yourself include wearing wide brimmed hats to cover your head and neck and wearing sun protecting clothing.
The hours of 10-2 are the higher amount of sun intensity and a higher elevation has an increase of intensity as well.
Every severe sunburn before age of 18 increases the risk the most of skin cancer, so protecting kids is very important.
It’s important to note the expiration on your sunscreen and always check consistency to ensure quality. If it has been stored in a warm place, it may not be as effective.
Make sure to see your dermatologist annually for a professional exam.
For more information about how early detection saves lives, click here.