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Healthy Skin is Beautiful Skin

Posted on: May 18, 2018

Skin cancer awareness May 2018 - Mercy Cancer Center, Canton, OhioBy now, everyone knows that tan skin is damaged skin. But just because you don’t have a sun tan doesn’t mean your skin is in optimal health.

May is skin cancer awareness month, and Mercy Cancer Center would like to take this opportunity to remind you to take care of your body’s largest organ, the skin. The skin provides many important functions, including protecting you from heat, sunlight, injury, and infection; controlling body temperature; and storing water, fat, and vitamin D.

The number of new cases of non-melanoma (basal and squamous carcinoma) and melanoma skin cancer is on the rise. Melanoma is the most aggressive of the three.

Are you at risk for melanoma?

The following are risks for melanoma:

  • Fair complexion, light colored eyes, red/blond hair
  • Exposed to natural or artificial sunlight (such as tanning beds) oover long periods of time.
  • Having a history of many blistering sunburns especially as a youth
  • Having many moles
  • Family history of unusual moles
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Being Caucasian (This does not mean that people with darker complexions are immune to melanoma. Regardless of your skin color, you should follow melanoma prevention strategies.)

How can you best protect your skin and prevent melanoma?

The primary way is to limit your exposure to ultraviolet rays. The American Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Stay in the shade
  • Wear protective clothing, including a shirt, hat, and sunglasses.
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Avoid tanning lamps and tanning beds. These are associated with an increased risk of melanoma, especially when used before the age of 30.
  • Protect children from the sun
  • Don’t ignore moles, regularly inspect your skin, and show any abnormalities to your doctor.

What does an abnormal mole look like?

The ABCDE rule is a guide to some of the signs that a mole may be melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other
  • Border: The edges are irregular, notched, ragged, or blurred.
  • Color: The color is not uniform, but may be various shades of brown, black, pink, red, white, or blue.
  • Diameter: The mole is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: The mole is changing.

You should also report any changes in the surrounding skin, swelling, itching, tenderness, pain, oozing, bleeding, or formation of a lump to your doctor for further evaluation.

As with all cancers, melanoma is most successfully treated when it is identified early. So don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you have a suspicious area on your skin.

Protect your skin, and your skin will protect you!

If you or someone you know is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Mercy’s Cancer Nurse Navigators are available to help you. Call 330-430-2788 for assistance.

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