A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Smart Health: Know more about melanoma — and how to protect yourself from a deadly skin cancer

By Nathan Skaggs
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

What do you know about melanoma?

St. Elizabeth Healthcare wants you to be a part of the Melanoma Know More movement.

Warning signs and symptoms of melanoma

Melanoma can be one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. However, there is a bright side: when it’s detected early, it is highly treatable.

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) suggests using the ABCDE method to identify melanoma warning signs:

• A: Asymmetry (one half is unlike the other)
• B: Border (irregular, scalloped or poorly defined)
• C: Color (varied from one area to another; shades of tan, brown and black; sometimes red, white or blue)
• D: Diameter (usually about the size of a pencil eraser (6mm), but they can be smaller)
• E: Evolving (a mole or skin lesion that is changing in size, shape or color; looks different from the rest)

It’s important to schedule yearly skin checks with a dermatologist. They are trained to identify pre-cancerous signs before the average person would realize something is wrong.

Your dermatologist will also keep track of any potentially problematic areas.

[source: ADA Spot Me brochure – www.spotme.org]

Melanoma Know More

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is a supporter of the Melanoma Know More campaign, designed to raise awareness about melanoma and offer prevention tips. The program also offers free skin check clinics at a variety of local health organizations including St. Elizabeth.

Melanoma Know More is committed to helping the people of Greater Cincinnati learn more about this disease. With summer weather right around the corner, make sure to incorporate the following tips into your routine to minimize sun exposure:

• Seek shade between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Wear protective, breathable clothing.
• Wear a hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
• Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, towel drying or sweating.
• Use sunscreen liberally, even on cloudy days.
• Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or more to all exposed skin.
• Avoid tanning beds – base tans do not help prevent sunburn.
• Keep babies out of the sun and only use sunscreen when they are six months old or older.
• Use sunscreens specifically formulated for children and infants.
[source: ADA Spot Me brochure – www.spotme.org]

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2 Comments

  1. Marv Dunn says:

    Good advice. I’ve had two encounters with melanoma, First in my early 30’s when I went into the hospital for hernia surgery and the mole was located purely by accident. I started seeing a dermatologist regularly and twenty five years later another one popped up. Neither got past the mole stage but the doctors still want their “pound of flesh”, nuclear medicine images, removal of lymph glands, etc. to make sure. No further treatment has been necessary and i credit my good luck to early detection. Just last month I was back to have some moles on my back checked out, fortunately they were nothing but it gave me peace of mind.

  2. Marc says:

    The research shows unequivocally that sun deprivation among children leads to myopia, rickets, and vitamin D deficiency. It is a mistake to advocate sun avoidance for our babies, children, or any other age group. Non-burning sun exposure is vital to human health. Don’t take away sun exposure, just avoid sunburning. Much of the world is now vitamin D deficient, and for every death caused by diseases that are associated with sun exposure, there are about 328 deaths caused by diseases that are associated with sun deprivation. In the U.S, sun exposure has decreased by 90% since 1935. During that time the risk of melanoma has increased by 3,000%! Isn’t it interesting that each year the use of sunscreen increases, and each year the risk of contracting melanoma increases? It is not sun exposure that causes health problems; it is sun deprivation. And, it is leading to 336,000 deaths yearly in the U.S. There has also been an 8,300% increase in vitamin D deficiency in children since 2000, which is likely due to insufficient time playing outdoors and/or sunscreen use. So you see, all of this “protection” may be fatal. In addition, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released information that 73% of sunscreens don’t work and some may be counterproductive. A 20-year Swedish study demonstrated a 23% reduced risk of all-cause death among those women who used sunbeds (tanning beds).
    •Women who actively seek the sun have half the risk of death compared with those who avoid the sun.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    •Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, essential to a properly functioning nervous system.
    For more information: Sunlight Institute website: sunlightinstitute.org

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