St. Charles Health System and Bend Memorial Clinic (BMC) are working together to encourage early detection and prevention of skin cancer. With 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. “When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable,” said BMC board certified dermatologist, Oliver Wisco, DO, FAAD. “Many people don’t realize how deadly skin cancer can be or know what to look for on their skin. We encourage everyone to learn the ABCDEs of melanoma and examine your skin head-to-toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions. If you see anything on your skin that is changing, itching or bleeding, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist or your doctor.”
The ABCDEs outline the warning signs of melanoma:
· A – is for Asymmetry: One-half of the mole does not match the other half.
· B – is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
· C – is for Color that varies from one area to another.
· D – is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
· E – is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Protection from the sun is especially important for babies and children, who are much more sensitive to the sun than adults. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. In fact, about 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure happens before age 18.
“With skin cancer rates on the rise, especially in the High Desert, we need to change our mindset about protecting our skin,” said Lizzi Katz, community education coordinator for St. Charles Health System. “By educating the public we can increase prevention and people’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable.”
Below are some tips people can follow to prevent skin cancer:
· Minimize exposure of your skin to sunlight
· Try to enjoy your outdoor activities in the mornings or evenings
· Look for an SPF of at least 30 for maximal protection from skin cancer and premature aging
· Apply sunscreen every morning to your sun-exposed skin
· Make a habit of using lip sunblock, every day, all year
· Wear long sleeves and a hat with a broad brim
· Wear sun protective clothing
For more information, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at cancer.org.