The incidence of melanoma skin cancer has doubled in the U.S. in the last 30 years, and will rise unless Americans take more precautions to protect themselves from dangerous UV rays. Fortunately, Melanomas account for only 2% of skin cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Kormeili, Santa Monica dermatologist, discusses the risk factors and treatment options for melanoma.
Risk Factors For Skin Cancers
Anything that increases your chance of getting cancer, is a risk factor. There are certain risk factors we can’t change, like family history and genetics. Other risk factors such as excessive sun exposure are within our control.
Being exposed to ultraviolet rays (UV rays) is that most important risk factor that you can control. In fact, UV rays are the major risk factor for most melanomas. While sunlight is the main source of UV radiation, tanning beds and sun lamps also provide risks. Check out the risks associations with tanning beds.
Early Detection Is Key
Dr. Kormeili advises all her patients to schedule routine exams in the office. It’s also important to be protect your skin from excess sun and artificial UV rays.
She additionally recommends that they all do skin self-exams. Let’s discuss how to do a proper skin exam at home.
- Stand in front of a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. It’s hard to see details in poor lighting. You can also use a hand-held mirror to look at hard to see areas (such as the back of your legs).
- You can ask a spouse, family member, or close friend to help you, especially with those hard to see areas such as your back and scalp.
- The first time you do a self skin exam, take your time and carefully go over the entire surface. Become familiar with any moles, blemishes, freckles, or other marks so you can tell if it changes.
- Take pictures of any molds or other marks so that you can recheck those moles for possible changes.
- Of course, it’s important to show your doctor any areas that concern you.