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This Melanoma Monday, learn these common signs of skin cancer & how to protect yourself

Posted at 4:39 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 17:42:29-04

(WXYZ) — It’s the first Monday in May, which means it’s Melanoma Monday — a day dedicated to raising awareness about the deadliest form of skin cancer.  

It’s spring, the sun is shining, and the days are warmer, so it’s natural to want to enjoy the outdoors. But we need to do this wisely. Recent findings from the American Academy of Dermatology found that over one-third of adults experienced sunburn last year. Now, why do sunburns matter? Well, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, having five or more sunburns doubles your chance of developing melanoma. And the same goes for if you had one — just one —blistering sunburn in childhood.

Sunburns are more than just uncomfortable — they’re an inflammatory response to damage from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Melanomas develop mainly due to damage to the DNA of skin cells that have grown out of control.

This year, the United States expects to see over 100,600 new melanoma diagnoses and around 8,300 fatalities from the disease.

When looking at moles and spots, the big thing to remember is the ABCDE rule:

- A stands for asymmetrical, meaning one half of the mole or spot doesn't match the other

- B represents an irregular border, where edges may appear ragged or uneven

- C stands for color, meaning the spot may vary in color and include black, brown, and tan or patches of red, white, or blue

- D is for diameter, particularly any new growth larger than the size of a pencil eraser

- Lastly, E reminds us to watch for Evolving changes over time

The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.

Here’s how to reduce your risk:

- Protect your skin by wearing broad-spectrum protection sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher

- Seek shade when possible, especially between 10 am and 2 pm

- Wear sun-protective clothing along with hats and sunglasses

- And avoid tanning beds as they are also a source of ultraviolet rays

I constantly encourage my patients to embrace sun-safe behaviors. That’s the primary line of defense against UV radiation-induced skin damage. I also stress the importance of regularly looking for any new or changing moles or spots.

Remember, Melanoma Monday is all about raising awareness and encouraging early detection. Melanomas can be curable when caught early and treated. So, take a moment to check your skin today. And if anything looks questionable, see your dermatologist.