Join the American Academy of Dermatology and wear orange on May 5, Melanoma Monday. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. While other forms of skin cancer are holding steady or decreasing; melanoma is on the rise. The scary thing is it’s affecting more young people.
We could all take a tip or two from the Australians. The sun is strong in the land down under and Aussies know a thing or two about skin cancer. They all know the Slip, Slop, Slap Campaign song by heart. It goes: “Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat –Slip, Slop, Slap! “
The latest campaign adds more sibilant syllables “Slide and Seek. That’s slide on your sunglasses and seek shade.
That is some mighty good advice. I’d say slipping on a shirt and slapping on a hat are probably more important points than slopping on sunscreen.
The single biggest thing you can do to cut your melanoma risk is to prevent sunburns early in life. Helping children and infants avoid sunburns is the most important thing a parent can do to affect that child’s risk of developing melanoma.
Other than not smoking and using sun protection, there are no other actions that a parent can take that will so greatly reduce their child’s risk of developing cancer later in life.
The American Cancer Society recommends that you check your own skin about once a month. Self-exam is best done in front of a full-length mirror. A hand-held mirror can be used for places that are hard to see. Look at all areas, such as your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and your back.
The American Melanoma Foundation says when it comes to identifying possible melanomas you need to know your ABCs and Ds.
The ABCD rule can help you tell a normal mole from an abnormal mole. ABCD stands for:
• A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
• B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
• C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or even patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
• D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than about ¼ inch across (the size of a pencil eraser), but melanomas can be smaller than this.
If you find a mole that matches any of these symptoms you should see a board-certified dermatologist immediately. It usually takes a month or more to get an appointment with a dermatologist, but if you explain your situation you may be able to get in sooner.
Be safe. Be healthy. Be good to yourself and slip, slap, slop.
The Good Doctor