Clearwater, Florida -- The first Monday in May is designated Melanoma Monday, a day focused on the dangers of skin cancer. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but it's curable if caught early. That's why annual screenings save lives.
Doctors from Morton Plant Mease screened more than 200 people today for free to raise awareness about the disease that kills a person every hour. It's linked to sun exposure, so wearing sunscreen is a good way to protect your skin. Melanoma is curable if it's caught early. Dr. Amy Ross said they're seeing more cases in young people. She added if you're old enough for a physical exam you're old enough to get screened for skin cancer, so parents keep that in mind if you're scheduling an appointment for your teens.
The American Cancer Society suggests doing a self-skin exam once a month:
- Know the pattern of your moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you'll notice any new moles or changes in existing moles that include size, shape and color.
- Self-exam is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to help look at areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs.
- Examine all areas including your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and your back. Friends and family members can also help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas, such as your scalp and back.
- Any suspicious areas or unusual moles should be seen by your primary doctor or by a dermatologist.
The ABCDE rule is another guide to follow for signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Reducing the risk of developing skin cancer:
- Stay out of direct ultraviolet (UV) rays sun exposure and seek shade while outdoors.
- Use sunscreen 30 SPF or higher and re-apply often when outdoors, at least every two hours.
- Wear hats with a 2-3 inch brim around and sunglasses with a 99% UV absorption label to minimize UV light to skin around eyes and face.
- Avoid tanning beds