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Melanoma Monday: Skin cancer cases are on the rise, dermatologists urge people to protect themselves

Ask Dr. Nandi: Dermatologists encourage you to practice sun safety on 'Melanoma Monday'
Posted at 3:17 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 17:36:34-04

(WXYZ) — Today is Melanoma Monday – it’s a day to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer here in the US and cases have been steadily rising.

There are three main types of skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. We often hear more about melanoma because it is the most invasive and aggressive form. Melanoma means ‘black tumor’. It grows fast and can spread to organs in your body. And while it’s the deadliest form of skin cancer, it is curable if caught early. So that’s why it’s important to do regular self-examinations.

Now this year, experts estimate they’ll be about 200,000 cases. That’s a lot. So why are skin cancer cases on the rise? Well, it’s most likely because of exposure to ultraviolet radiation. And two of the major culprits are the sun’s UV rays and tanning beds.

People need to watch for unusual moles and the best way to remember what to look for is by thinking of the letters ABCDE.

  • A is for asymmetric shape
  • B is for irregular border
  • C is for different shades or changes in color
  • D is diameter - larger than a ¼ inch
  • Lastly, E is for evolving. Watch for changes over time.

I’d like to stress that if you’re not sure about a mole or a spot on your skin, please speak to your doctor. As for protection, here are my Partha’s prescriptions:

  1. Watch your sun exposure. Try to avoid the sun between 10 am and 3 pm.
  2. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF when outdoors. Preferably sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
  3. Wear sunglasses, long sleeves, and a hat with a wide brim. These can help reduce sun damage.
  4. Lastly, skip the tanning beds. You may get tanned skin but you’ll also up your chance of developing melanoma.

Now fair-skinned people are the most at risk for skin cancer, but it can happen to anyone regardless of skin color. So enjoy being outdoors but please be mindful of the time you spend in the sun.