You got up this morning and as you pulled up your britches you felt something strange on the back of you thigh. Or you suddenly have a nagging itch on your arm, near a mole that you are pretty sure had always been there. Or you notice that a spot on your chest seems to be bigger then you recall. In any one of these cases, a call to the doctor is always warranted. When it comes to the possibility of skin cancer or MELANOMA, you always want to be over safe then very sorry. Did you know that Skin Cancer is the single most common form of cancer?
Early Detection is Critical
A majority of skin cancers are non-Melanomas, which means that they are only in the outer layer of skin. Although, it is best to have it removed, it is very unlikely that it will spread past the epidermis layer of the skin. Melanomas are another story all together. It is a cancerous overtaking of the melanocytes (cells the give us our pigment) in the very deep layers of skin. The most important tool to prevent the systemic invasion of skin cancer is to get treated early on. Melanomas (or black skin tumors) are relatively slow growing, therefore they can often be cured by simple resection (scoping out of the skin) surgery.
What to Look For
Just about every one has a few moles on their bodies. Not all moles are cancerous. So how do you tell the difference:
• Any seemingly sudden change in appearance of a mole – color, size (both height and width), or first notice
• Asymmetry of mole – most moles are generally round and symmetrical.
• Itchiness, tenderness and even pain of the mole
• Cracking, bleeding or pus oozing around edges
• If the color of the mole spread past the raised edge
Ways to Prevent
Although some people are just more prone to skin cancer then others (fair complexions, heredity and severe sunburns as a child). But there are other ways to limit your susceptibility:
• Seek shade whenever possible
• Slather on the Sunscreen – always at least 15 SPF – even on overcast days
• Wear a hat and sunglasses
• Stay away from tanning beds and light – they actually intensify the harmful rays
• Do a monthly once over on your skin.
All in all cancer is a very scary topic to discuss. In fact a upsetting and large number of people do not get signs or symptoms examined for fear of hearing the “C-word”. But we are blessed to live in a time where many forms of cancer can be treated and even cured. But no matter the type – early detection is key to minimal growth. Now please do not turn into a hypochondriac after reading this. I am more urging you to be aware of your body on every level. This makes it easier to notice any changes in the norm. So the next time you are in the shower, give yourself the once over. Learn the topography so that you will notice if a new mountain sprouts up.
For more information on Skin Cancers (or any other cancers) please visit: www.cancer.org And if you are so inclined –please make a donation to help them continue to support the medical research efforts as well as their service and supports efforts for those affected by cancer. Did you know that the American Cancer Society is funded almost entirely by donations (both individual and corporate). They receive no money directly from the government to provide the incredible services they give freely to the general public.