I’m back. I think I just need to accept that blogging won’t happen during November and December. Between family and work, those months are a blur. I used to feel a little post holiday blues, but now I relish the free weekends of January.
Usually my posts focus on light topics, but this is a heavy one. These past couple months I have diagnosed several melanoma skin cancers, with about half of them in young women. I hate having to call someone and tell them they have a melanoma. Even if it is an early melanoma (which has a good prognosis), telling someone they have a cancer that can kill them is hard.
Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but is responsible for nearly all skin cancer deaths. The overall risk for melanoma is low (about 1/40 for Caucasians) but it is one of the most common cancers in young adults.
Melanoma usually presents as a new or changing mole. The mole can be a variety of different colors: brown, black, pink, red, blue, grey – or a combination. A melanoma can develop from a mole you had for many years. An easy way to remember possible features of a cancerous mole: The ABCDE of Melanoma.
A: Asymmetric – one side of the mole looks different than the other
B: Border – the border is jagged and not smooth
C: Color – more than one color or change in color
D: Diameter – larger than 6mm (or a pencil head eraser)
E: Evolving – a mole that is changing
I recommend looking at your moles every 2-3 months to ensure there are none that look suspicious.
If you have risk factors for skin cancer or melanoma such as tanning bed exposure, history of severe sunburns, fair skin and light eyes, a high number of moles or a family history of melanoma, it is advisable to have a baseline skin exam to determine your individual risk.
A few great resources for skin cancer:
American Academy of Dermatology