Monday, May 3, 2010

Melanoma Monday, Detection and Prevention

Melanoma Monday is the kick-off of May Melanoma Month.  People are encouraged to self examine their skin for skin cancer.

What Is A Melanoma?

Melanoma is a malignant tumor found predominantly in skin but also in the bowel and the eye. Around 60,000 new cases of invasive melanoma are diagnosed in the US each year. It is more common in Caucasian people living in sunny climates or in those who use tanning salons. According to WHO about 48,000 melanoma related deaths occur worldwide per year. Treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor, adjuvant treatment, chemo- and immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.

American Academy of Dermatology has prepared a Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention program called 31 Days - 31 Ways

The Facts About Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer because of its ability to spread. It is important to catch melanoma early when the cure rate with dermatological surgery is about 95%.

Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body - soles, palms, inside the mouth, genitalia, and underneath nails. However, it is most commonly found on the back, buttocks, legs, scalp, neck, and behind the ears.

Melanoma often develops in a pre-existing mole that begins to change or a new mole. This is why it is important to be familiar with the moles on your body and perform regular self-examinations of your skin. When looking at moles, keep in mind the ABCDEs of Melanoma Detection as described in the following video.

Is That Just A Mole - Or Early Signs of Skin Cancer?
We all have at least some moles on our skin. Do you know which moles are normal, and which could be signs of trouble? This year, more than one million Americans will get some form of skin cancer, and in many cases, moles could have served as early warning signs.

Most skin cancer can be prevented by practicing sun protection. Research shows that not only does sun protection reduce one’s risk of developing skin cancer; sun protection also may decrease the likelihood of recurrence.

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) recommends that everyone protect their skin by following these sun protection practices:

Avoid deliberate tanning. Lying in the sun can cause premature aging (wrinkles, blotchiness, and sagging skin) as well as a 1 in 5 chance of developing skin cancer. Tanning beds and sunlamps are just as dangerous.  If you like the look of a tan, consider using a sunless self-tanning product. These products do not protect skin from the sun, so a sunscreen should be used.

Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet. Don’t seek the sun.

Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin every day. The sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and be broad-spectrum (provides protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, hands, and toes. Many skin cancers develop in these areas. Protect your lips, another high-risk area, with lip balm that offers sun protection with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Sunscreen should not be used to prolong sun exposure. Some UV light gets through sunscreen.

Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied approximately every two hours.

Be sure to reapply sunscreen after being in water or sweating.

Sunscreen does not make sunbathing safe.

Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a hat, and sunglasses, where possible.

Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun. This can increase your risk chance of sunburn.

Aside from skin cancer, the sun’s UV rays also cause premature aging: Signs of premature aging include wrinkles, mottled skin, and loss of skin’s firmness.

Indoor Tanning is Out

Not only can the ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning beds lead to wrinkles, it also increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. On an average day, more than one million Americans tan in tanning salons. Research shows that nearly 70 percent of indoor tanners are female, primarily 16 to 29 years old.

The Academys public service advertisement (PSA) campaign aims to educate the public, especially young women, about the dangers of indoor tanning. The campaign contains print, television and radio advertisements, which all carry the same theme: Indoor Tanning is Out®. In the television advertisements, a series of young women tell their peers why indoor tanning is not as safe as they might think.

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