Skin Cancer Review

 

As easy as A-B-C

BY: LESLIE RESCHLY BSN, RN

Everyone loves that golden bronze tan! Have you looked around our community recently? See that RED BURN with white swimsuit strap marks? Welcome to summer, as locals and tourists hit the beach for extended periods and suffer the consequences.

Believe me, I am a sun worshipper with age spots to prove it! If you grew up in my generation, chances are you laid on aluminum foil in your backyard smothered in iodine-infused baby oil. Shudder at the thought! We have come to find out that sun worship leads to some horrible health concerns.

According to the American Cancer Society website, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the USA. There are essentially 3 basic types of skin cancer, which arise from the cell types for which they are named. Basal Cell Skin cancer is the most common beginning in basal cells of the skin. Almost 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year. This type of cancer is most frequently treated by removal of the area and surrounding tissue. Squamous cell cancer develops in the cells of the outer skin layers and is the second most common type of skin cancer encompassing approx. 20% of all cases. It is also treated with removal. Malignant Melanoma is the most serious and most fatal of skin cancers.

Malignant melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that color the skin by producing melanin and make moles. Melanoma receives the most attention because it can kill you! It has a tendency to spread to lymph nodes and distant organs eventually showing up in the brain for example. Recognized early, malignant melanoma has a high cure rate. Depth of the cancer lesion, presence of ulceration and involvement of lymph nodes increases your chances of a poor outcome – essentially, the thicker the melanoma lesion, the worse your prognosis. It is anticipated that 2850 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2016 in NC!

You may have seen warning signs for abnormal moles but for the sake of familiarity, lets review. It’s as easy as A-B-C.

Consider these items when looking at your body.

A-Asymmetry. One side does not look like the other. It is not a round circle.

B-Border irregularity. Think jigsaw puzzle piece

C-Color change or multicolored especially if dark black or blue

D-Diameter of greater than 6 mm (pencil eraser)

E-Evolving. The mole or skin area changes over time including open sore, does not heal, bleeds.

Anyone reading this article knows the importance of sunscreen and sun avoidance. I would like to encourage you to seek annual medical evaluation of your skin so that changes can be detected early. In addition, if you notice something on yourself, your partner or your friend that meets the above criteria, SAY SOMETHING! Get a thorough skin check by a dermatologist or your medical professional. Survival depends on early discovery and treatment!

Be Safe and Be Healthy!

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