by Antoinette Notaro, MD
Believe it or not, more than one million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. That’s more than all other cancers combined. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), malignant melanoma, the more serious form of skin cancer is increasing faster than any other cancer in America. While malignant melanoma accounts for just five percent of all skin cancers, it is the cause of 75 percent of deaths from the disease.
Lower your skin cancer risk by adhering to a comprehensive sun protection program that includes monthly self-examinations and a yearly screening by a dermatologist. Melanoma is especially hard to stop once it has spread to other parts of the body. However, it can be readily treated if detected in its early stages. Screenings are quick and easy. A yearly examination by a dermatologist is a non-invasive visual inspection of the entire body and only takes two or three minutes.
You should also perform your own self-exam at least once a month. Search for any spots on your skin that have changed in size, color or shape. Focus on your neck, chest and torso. Use a bright light, full-length mirror or hand-mirror to inspect hard-to-see areas such as the scalp and back of the neck.
Learn the “ABCD’s of moles and melanoma and alert your dermatologist immediately to any of the following key warning signs:
• Border irregularity
• Color variability
• Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
Never leave the house without applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation that comes from the sun causes early aging of the skin and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. UV radiation can penetrate light clothing, windshields, and windows. Avoid the midday sun from mid-morning to late afternoon whenever possible and remember, sunscreen alone cannot replace avoiding the sun and wearing clothing to protect the skin.
This information is provided by Antoinette Notaro, MD, a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, on the Medical Staff at Eastern Long Island Hospital. Dr. Notaro, listed as one of the top doctors in New York by Castle Connelly, has a private practice located in Mattituck.
For an appointment, call (631) 477-5121