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Topic of the Month


May - Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection Month


Skin cancers are the most common cancers in the United States so prevention and early detection is key when addressing the health of your skin. The reason it is so common is due to the high amounts of Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) light that penetrates your skin from the sun, tanning booths, and sunlamps without you even realizing. Exposure at high amounts leads to the most dangerous type of skin cancer: Melanoma. In order to prevent this cancer you must be in touch with your body and monitor changes in your skin, since often times no symptoms occur other than enlarged sunspots/moles. Some things you should look for are: a sore that doesn’t heal, the spread of pigment from the border of a spot onto the skin around it, redness or swelling around a mole, or experiencing new itchiness/tenderness/pain in the skin, or scaly, oozing, bleeding, or lumpy texture of a mole. If anything appears different make sure you contact your dermatologist or doctor and go in for regular checkups to ensure that you maintain healthy and cancer-free skin.


What Puts You at High Risk?

1.      Moles (discoloration, abnormal shape, rapid growth)

2.      Being fair-skinned, having freckles

3.      Family history of skin cancer

4.      Smoking

5.      Excess exposure to the sun, tanning beds/booths, sunlamps

6.      Not wearing or reapplying sunscreen regularly

7.      Having a weakened immune system (like due to AIDS)

8.      Age (being older increases chances especially for men)


How Can I Prevent This?

●       Early detection

●       Regular dermatologist checkups

●       Paying attention to moles or spots on your body

●       Reapplying sunscreen

●       Avoiding other harsh UV radiation

●       Remember the ABCDE rule for moles:

○     A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

○     B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

○     C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

○     D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

○     E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.





Important Resources:


American Family Physician - Melanoma


Mayo Clinic - Melanoma Pictures


National Cancer Institute


Skin Cancer Foundation

 UNC Health Care

Women's Health Info Center
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