skin cancer

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

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May is not just the beginning of beach season here in Charleston, SC, it is also Melanoma Awareness Month. With warmer weather promising more outdoor fun, it’s important to be aware of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Thankfully, it is highly preventable with a few lifestyle changes.

Melanoma Awareness Month

Melanoma is a skin cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells. Although melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer, it can be potentially lethal because of its ability to spread to other areas of the body. Often melanoma appears on the skin as a blemish, spot or mole. Not all blemishes, spot and moles on the skin are melanoma, but the ABCDEs of melanoma can help determine if you need to get checked by a dermatologist:

  • Asymmetry: if a spot or mole on the skin seems bigger on one side than the other.
  • Borders: if a spot or mole has an irregular border or shape from other spots or moles on your skin.
  • Color: if a spot or mole is mutli-colored or a different color from other spots or moles on your skin.
  • Diameter: if a spot or mole is bigger than a pencil eraser.
  • Evolution: if there is a change in the size, shape, or symptoms of a spot or mole.

More than half of melanoma cases develop from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.  But don’t worry; if staying indoors is not in your summer plans, there are several things you can do to reduce your chance of potentially harmful sun exposure – we recently covered them and the traits that make a person more at risk for developing skin cancer in our blog: Skin Cancer Screenings: A Summer Must.

Although monthly self-exams using the ABCDE’s of melanoma are an important way to determine changes in skin appearance, the only person melanoma can be diagnosed by is your dermatologist. In addition to monthly self-exams, annual skin cancer screenings performed by a dermatologist are an important step in staying healthy.  A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin performed before any symptoms are present. If something appears abnormal during the screening, a biopsy will be taken. The biopsy will determine if the abnormality is cancerous or not.
To schedule a skin cancer screening appointment with Derm Clinics Charleston, contact us at (843) 795-7546.

 


Skin Cancer Screenings: A Summer Must!

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The temps are heating up here in Charleston, SC, which means lots of fun in the sun! Before hitting the beach there are some facts you should know about skin cancer: when to get screened and what precautions to take to avoid getting cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. That being the case, it is important to know about the different types of skin cancer, as well as the preventative measures to decrease the chances of having skin cancer.

 

More than two million people in the United States each year are diagnosed with the most common types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of skin cancer are easily detectable as alterations or changes in the skin occur. If alterations and changes are noticed quickly enough, they are promptly examined by a dermatologist who also performs a biopsy. Non-melanoma skin cancers, because they are easily detectable, are also easily curable.

 

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer; luckily, it is not as common as other types of skin cancer. Melanoma is potentially lethal, and new cases of malignant melanoma have been steadily increasing since 2005.

 

People with the following traits are more susceptible to skin cancer and should receive lifelong dermatologic surveillance as well as perform monthly self-exams:

  • A family history of melanoma and other skin cancers
  • Atypical moles (irregular borders, color variation, or are asymmetrical)
  • Skin that burns easily/fails to tan
  • Freckling, blue eyes or red hair
  • A history of blistering sunburns

 

The most preventable cause of skin cancer is the sun. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), adequately protecting one’s skin from the sun is an easy way to prevent skin cancer. Here’s how:

  • Avoid tanning beds. The same dangerous ultraviolet light from the sun is used by tanning beds.
  • Seek shade during the sun’s apex (10am – 2pm). If your shadow is shorter than you, get out of the sun.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses whenever possible.
  • Near sand, snow and water? Use caution, as those surfaces reflect and intensify light and can cause skin damage regardless of the temperature.
  • Wear sunscreen. Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen on your skin before sun exposure (Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher). Reapply every two hours regardless of the weather.

 

Along with lifelong dermatologic surveillance, we may recommend that you undergo a skin cancer screening. This screening is a visual inspection of your skin, performed by a dermatologist. These screenings are performed before any symptoms are found, if something appears abnormal during the screening a biopsy will be taken. A pathologist will evaluate the biopsy and determine if the growth is benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
To schedule a skin cancer screening appointment with Derm Clinics Charleston, contact us at (843) 795-7546.


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