Lubbock, TX - When people think of Summer, they think of sunshine, swimming, backyard BBQ's, and fun. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks about their skin. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is usually seen as pigmented lesions on the skin. That means before you send your kids out the door to have some fun in the sun, it is extremely important to make sure they know their ABC's first.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation "On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns". That means you need to make sure to start prevention early.
"The most important thing is that you limit your exposure to sun as much as you can."
Dr. Riaz, a Hematology & Medical Oncology specialist with Covenant, says that means wearing sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, wearing long sleeves and hats, avoiding sun exposure during the peak heating hours of the day, and steering clear of tanning beds.
"Most of these lesions are in the sun exposed parts on your face, neck, and on the upper arms and these are the areas where you need to be paying really close attention."
While everyone is susceptible to developing Melanoma, people with fair skin, who freckle easily, and have blonde hair are at a higher risk. It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of Melanoma so that if something changes, you know when to go to the doctor. That is where your ABC and D's come in.
"A is Assymetry. So if the pigmented lesion of the skin has an asymmetrical appearance that's one. B stands for borders. So if the borders of the lesion are irregular that's more high risk compared to smooth borders. C is the color variation. So if you see different colors within the same lesion, that's a high risk feature and these lesions should be evaluated. And D is for the diameter. So if the lesion is more than 6mm in diameter that's also a high risk. So if you see any of these signs in that lesion, you should immediately contact the dermatologist because they will go ahead and do the biopsy and get the diagnosis."
It is also important to remember "E" for evolving. If any of these factors start to change you also need to go to the doctor to get checked out.
According to a study in Pediatrics, childhood Melanoma diagnoses are rising at approximately of 2% per year for teens ages 15-19. The risk of Melanoma starts in childhood, so the prevention should too. It is important to get an SPF of atleast 30, but the higher you go the better. Make sure to apply it 30 minutes BEFORE going outside so you can ensure that it soaks in, reapply every 2 hours, and to check on the bottle that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.