PALM HARBOR, Fla. - One person dies every hour from melanoma. It's a scary statistic and one that can be preventable.
Bandages cover wounds Kathy Adams wishes she never had. Recently, she's had three biopsies to test for melanoma, a word she knows all too well. "It was dark, almost black in color. I figured it had been there for a while, I just hadn't paid any attention to it," she said.
That mole changed her lifestyle.
"When you hear the word 'malignant,' that just scares you to death."
She's not alone. Her dermatologist, Dr. Amy Ross, said she sees more young people, especially women, with melanoma. "The reason we think the increase in women is so much higher than other groups is because of these young girls going to tanning beds. It's the one thing we know will cause melanoma."
But tanning bed use isn't the only problem.
"The thing that's frustrating about skin cancer is that people kind of blow it off and think, 'Oh, skin cancer can't kill you. It's just an inconvenience,'" said Dr. Ross.
If you don't think skin cancer's a big deal, here's a statistic for you: If melanoma is caught in an early stage, your survival rate is 99 percent. If it's caught in a later stage, the survival rate drops below 15 percent.
"We use Melanoma Monday to raise awareness of that so people really do try to take it seriously," said Dr. Ross. She says to remember "A B C D E" -- Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving.
"When they look at their body, is there a change in a mole?"
Examining her skin is what saved Kathy's life. While the bandages are a reminder that one of these moles could also be melanoma, they're also a reminder that it's preventable. "It's scary, but the good thing is, everything of mine has been caught in the earliest stages and that's what is so important," she said.
Melanoma Monday is on May 7.
For information on free cancer screenings, as well as skin cancer prevention tips, visit: http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/what-we-do/melanoma-monday/