Checking for Skin Cancer

When it comes to skin cancer, melanoma isn’t the most prevalent, but it is one of the most dangerous. Eight out of every ten skin cancer deaths comes from melanoma. Experts say now that summer is over, it’s especially important for people to pay attention to their skin. Bill Stamps explains why.


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If you have a mole, skin experts say you need to check it. Not once, but once every month. Moles don’t cause skin cancer, but if you’re going to get melanoma — there’s a good chance it will start in the mole.

Doctor Sindy Pang is a Houston dermatologist. She says just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about your skin.

“People think that during the summer time they’re going to be out in the sun, so they would come in and get their skin checked, but they don’t realize that this is a year long thing. In Houston, you still get exposure in the fall and winter time.”

Melanoma is one of three types of skin cancer. Out of the three, it’s the least common. But for those who get it, it’s the most deadly. Seventy-nine percent of all skin cancer deaths come from Melanoma. The experts say the best way to prevent the disease is to reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun. The next best thing you can do is a self skin exam.

Dr. Pang says check for changes in color, size and shape of the mole.

“You can have a mole that looks like a regular mole and then it can change over time and turn into melanoma, or melanoma can appear as a melanoma from the very beginning.”

If you do a self exam and notice a change in your skin or mole — Doctor Pang says there’s no reason to get overly worried. It may be something, but it may not be. She advises getting checked out right away instead of waiting.

“We’re not saying that every mole that is dark or has irregular borders is melanoma or gonna turn into melanoma. It’s just a guideline for the general population to look out for those are the things to look for and if you’re not sure then go in and get checked.”

This year in the U.S. there’s expected to be close to 70-thousand new cases of melanoma. More than 8-thousand will likely die from it. Doctor Pang says they’ve gotten better at detecting the disease but there’s still no cure and the number of cases are actually going up.

melanoma vs normal moleBill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

ABCD rule illustration. On the left side from top to bottom: melanomas showing (A) Asymmetry, (B) a border that is uneven, ragged, or notched, (C) coloring of different shades of brown, black, or tan and (D) diameter that had changed in size. The normal moles on the right side do not have abnormal characteristics (no asymmetry, even border, even color, no change in diametry).

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