May is Melanoma and Skin Detection and Protection Month

May is the health awareness month that accentuates the importance of protecting your skin. In South Florida, May already starts feeling like the summer, so precaution is necessary. In South Florida, precaution is always necessary given the increased amounts of time Floridians are able to be outdoors.  The key to detecting skin cancer comes with body exams. These body exams can be self-performed, as well as performed by a dermatologist or other physician trained in detecting potential skin cancer.

When performing self exams, it is important to check your body and have someone else check areas that are not easily visible to yourself. Things to look out for are new freckles, growths, and lesions bearing characteristics akin to a melanoma versus a benign lesion. The ABCDEs of Melanoma are guidelines to look for when determining if a medical opinion is necessary:

A- Asymmetrical Shape can be indicative of a melanoma.

B- Borders that are irregular and not easily defined can be indicative of a melanoma.

C- Color differences in one mole can be indicative of a melanoma.

D- Diameters larger than 6 mm can be indicative of a melanoma.

E- Evolitution- This is a key factor: observing the changes or development of already existing lesions on your body. If a lesion has altered in any way, it is time to seek the advice of a dermatologist.

It is important to get an annual skin check to ensure early detection. Dermatologists are trained to spot abnormal lesions.

In addition to consistently checking for existing skin cancer, it is vital to take precautions to prevent skin cancer. Precautions are those actions that prevents your skin’s exposure to the sunlight and its harmful ultraviolet rays. Make sure to apply sunscreen before leaving your homes and re-apply throughout the day. Wear hats and clothing that prevent direct exposure from the sunlight.

If you think you have a cancerous lesion do not hesitate to seek medical advice.

Sources with more information:

The American Academy of Dermatology

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