Stand in front of a full-length mirror. Take off all your clothes. Take a good look at yourself, using a hand mirror to inspect places you can't otherwise see. Make a mental note of where your moles, freckles, blemishes, and other marks are located and what they look like. If you don't think you'll be able to recall the details when it's time for your next monthly self-exam, draw a picture or take a snapshot. Examine every inch of yourself-from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. If you notice any difference in the way your skin looks or feels, or there's a change in the size, shape or color of any moles on your skin, let Dr. Brooks know about it. Be sure to call Dr. Brooks attention to any spots, moles or skin lesions that worry you or that you were not able to examine
Melanoma is a potentially fatal cancerous mole. It may begin as an unusual-looking flat, dark freckle, or may appear as a raised, pigmented mole that changes size and color. Melanomas often have no symptoms, but may ooze, become scaly, bleed, itch, or feel sore. Melanoma almost always originates on the skin's surface, but may rapidly penetrate to deeper layers and spread to lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain, or bones.
Early detection and prevention reinforce the importance of a regular self skin examination and a comprehensive sun-protection program.
Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer. They are mainly caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, and are highly curable. They may present as a pink or skin colored growth that does not heal, and may scale, scab, and crust.
Both types of skin cancer may bleed intermittently or form an open sore. Mohs micrographic surgery is the ideal method of treatment because it saves the greatest amount of healthy tissue and has the highest cure rate of all procedures.
Every hour in the United States, one person dies of skin cancer, primarily melanoma.
Melanoma, like other forms of skin cancer, is associated with sun exposure. Fair complected people, redheads and blondes who freckle and sunburn easily, are melanoma's favorite targets, but the disease strikes members of every race and ethnic group.
Factors that increase a person's susceptibility to melanoma include a history of blistering sunburn, frequent use of tanning salons, a family history of melanoma, and the presence of a large number of moles and freckles on the body.
Humans can obtain Vitamin D from sun exposure (UV) but also from diet and supplements. The American Academy of Dermatology has recently issued its position statement regarding the use of sunscreens and vitamin D deficiency: "An adequate amount of vitamin D should be obtained from a healthy diet that includes food rich in vitamin D, foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplements: it should not be obtained from unprotected ultraviolet (UV) radiation." The Academy recommends that adults who regularly and properly practice photoprotection should consider a daily total close of 1,000 IU of vitamin D.
Apply sunscreen liberally to the face and sun exposed areas of the body if you are going to be out in the sun for any prolonged period of time. Be prepared to reapply your sunscreen if you are swimming or perspiring a lot. For babies under 6 months old, you may apply zinc oxide to exposed skin.
Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that every sun lamp product post a warning which includes: "Repeated exposure may cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer." The newer warning being considered by the FDA may use bullet points stating that ultraviolet radiation causes skin cancer, injury to the eyes and skin, and skin aging.