Medical Update: Melanoma-Protecting yourself from skin Cancer
Apr 12, 2013 at 7:46 PM CST
Apr 12, 2013
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of melanoma is critical in making sure skin cancer is caught early. "After having chronic exposure to the sun, there's some sort of mutation that takes place in the skin, and that, over time, develops into what we call melanoma." Doctor John Knecht says knowing your skin, and paying attention to the ABCD's of melanoma, is the best way to catch skin cancer early. "The “A” stands for asymmetry meaning that if it's a perfect circle you don't have to worry too much. If you can put a line down the middle and one side looks different than the other side, then that's an issue." The "B" stands for borders. Knecht says smooth edges of a mole are nothing to worry about, but if the outline is rough, the mole needs to be watched closely. The "C" stands for color; Knecht says to watch for any changes. "If you have either a very dark or a very light or bluish color any sort of color change." "D is for diameter. If something's growing in size, then that's a concern as well." It's recommended that everyone have a full body skin exam once a year to help catch any changes in the skin, early. "Sometimes these things develop in certain areas where you can't see them on the back, either your back or the back of your legs." "Things can happen where you can end up with Melanoma that's maybe metastasized to your brain and you maybe have a very small melanoma you never noticed." Doctor Knecht says protecting your skin from sun exposure is the best thing you can do, using sunscreen or covering up every time you go out. But it's also important to pay attention to your body, and any changes you might notice. "Any symptom that's concerning to you or your doctor whether it's headaches, weight loss, fevers, chills, coughs, it can be basically anything." Next week, Dr. Knecht will tell us what treatment options are available here locally as we continue our series on protecting yourself from skin cancer.