Friday, May 9, 2008

Get Yourself Screened!!



Yeah, I don't have skin cancer! I had my annual full-body check today with the dermatologist, and I had a few spots I was concerned with, but the dr. gave me a clean bill of health. Whew. But I am one of the lucky ones. I read so many articles these days about skin cancer, and since I had so many sunburns as a young girl, I'm nervous about something developing. Read these facts from Olay, who has teamed up with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to sponsor free screenings across the country:

Did you know...
One person dies every hour from skin cancer.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
Skin cancer in women under 40 has tripled in the past 30 years.
Five sunburns double a woman's chance of getting skin cancer.
UV exposure at tanning salons is just as risky as sunbathing outside.
People with fair skin that burns rather than tans, people with red hair and people with blue eyes are at greater risk of developing skin cancer.
People who have many (extensive) freckles on their upper back are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
People who have a history of sunburns, especially during childhood, are at a greater risk.
The depletion of the ozone layer may be significantly affecting the incidence of melanoma.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and exposure at high altitudes are the most dangerous times to be exposed to the sun.
Those with an impaired immune system — especially those who have had an organ transplant, leukemia or lymphoma — are at a greater risk of melanoma.
According to one study, the use of a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher during the first 18 years of life would cut lifetime risk of melanoma by 78%.


And it was especially nice to hear the dermatologist say she could tell right away I have been using my sunscreen, because she said my skin doesn't have that "age-y" look to it. I beg to differ, but it was nice to hear that from a dermatologist. If only I had known about the powers of sunscreen earlier. My daughter won't have wrinkles till till she's 80 with all the sunblock I slather on her!!

Go to http://www.skincaretakesfriends.org/ for details and to find a free screening in your area for you and a friend. My insurance covered my visit, but even if you can't find a free screening, or even if you're not insured, please go anyway. Skin cancer is way more serious than some think. Take care of yourself!!

13 comments:

Brian said...

No matter what steps are taken to reduce sun or tanning exposure it is still important to carefully examine your skin for suspicious moles that could portend a deadly melanoma. The traditional ABCD criteria can help guide risk assessment. A, for asymmetric lesions; B for moles with irregular Borders; C, for colors in the lesion; and D, for diameter greater than the tip of an eraser.

More recently physicians have recognized the importance of moles that are new or getting larger in predicting high risk lesions. They have now added E for enlargement to the criteria and many recommend following the ABCDE’s.

Although dermatologists almost always ask if you have any new or changing moles most people cannot accurately answer that question (particularly those with numerous moles and the greatest risk). One way to approach this problem for people at high risk is to use Total Body Photography to document the moles on your body. However, this is an expensive procedure (often costing $400-$600) that most insurance providers will not cover.

There is now an inexpensive software program that allows people to use their own digital cameras at home to take their own body images at different time intervals (maximizing privacy). The images can be scaled and aligned and compared using a personal computer to allow for the efficient recognition of new or growing moles. This software was developed from funding provided by the National Cancer Institute and can be obtained by going to the website www.dermalert.com

Laura said...

Thank you for the great info, Brian. My dr. mentioned to me that I had significantly fewer moles than most people (she said most average about 25), so after reading your comment, I'm feeling a little better, though I still have a lot of risk factors, like sunburns as a child and fair skin. But like you said, making sure to self-examine one's skin on a regular basis is extremely important.

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