Skin Cancer Awareness Month

To kickoff Skin Cancer Awareness Month last May, “CBS This Morning” did a profile on the rise of Melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.  Their reporting cited a statistic from the National Cancer Institute, which expects that melanoma will kill more than 7,200 Americans in 2019. For the past decade, the number of melanoma cases have steadily grown.  More than 96,000 new melanoma cases are expected this year.  The Skin Cancer Foundation, as well as  the American Academy of Dermatology, states that “we think unfortunately rates are still going up due to high levels of unprotected skin exposure and people are still using tanning beds.”

Fortunately, progress in treating melanoma has also steadily improved.  Now, more than 92 percent of melanoma patients survive at least five years. Differing from other cancers, melanoma cannot be effectively treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This is why advanced melanoma can be so deadly.  Dermatologists concede that “melanoma is a very smart cancer and it can deceive our immune system.  So by using immunotherapy to stimulate our [sic] own immune system to attack melanoma, the improvement in survival has been gradually increasing.”  Over the past several years, ten new immunotherapies have been developed.

Skin cancer, when caught early, is almost always curable.  But, people need to get early skin checks based on “the A, B, C, D, and Es of melanoma”

  • A is for Asymmetry
  • B is for Border Iregularity
  • C is for Color Variation
  • D is for Diameter
  • E is for Evolution or Change

Dermatologists cautions everyone that if “you see a mole that is new or changing, get in to see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin check every year [. . .] but if you’ve had skin cancer, get in at least twice a year.”

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