May is melanoma awareness month and is the perfect time to schedule a yearly skin check! A yearly skin check and early detection of melanoma can save a life. The five year survival rate of melanoma that is found early with no spread to other areas of the body is 98% in the U.S. Skin checks really do make a difference.
Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancers but is the cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths. One person dies every hour from melanoma. One in 50 people will develop melanoma in their lifetime. One or more blistering sunburns in childhood doubles your lifetime melanoma risk. One session of indoor tanning increases your lifetime melanoma risk by 20%. All skin types are at risk for melanoma and you do not have to burn to get melanoma. year survival rate of melanoma that is found early with no spread to other areas of the body is 98% in the U.S. Skin checks really do make a difference.
The good news is that melanoma is highly preventable if we follow some simple rules:
- Do not use indoor tanning beds. The more you tan the more your risk increases.
- Do not let your skin burn.
- Use a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher to all exposed areas daily.
- Avoid peak hours of sun exposure between 1000am and 200pm.
- Check your skin monthly and look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.
- Asymmetry- One half unlike the other half.
- Border- Irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
- Color- Varied from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.
- Diameter- Usually melanomas are greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
- Evolving- A mole of skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, share or color.
- See a dermatologist at least once a year for a full skin check.
Encourage your loved ones to follow these simple rules and get checked as well. It may save a life.