Today is “Melanoma Monday”, a day designed bring awareness to melanoma and remind us of what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Melanoma is largely preventable and—if caught early—is usually a curable cancer.
Volunteering at community events for the Nevada Cancer Coalition, I've heard a handful of the success stories from people who had their melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer—found early and treated successfully.
“I had melanoma before I was 30. It was right here on my leg,” a patron said as she pointed to a now faded scar.
“I had melanoma on my back,” another woman shared. She looked nervous and added, “I didn’t even know it was there. My boyfriend just asked about it one day.”
“I shouldn’t have tanned so much when I was younger,” said another. “I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I go twice a year to get my skin checked.”
Unfortunately, others in our community are not as lucky. The American Cancer Society predicts that 840 Nevadans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and 80 of them will die from the disease.
So, what can you do? First, be aware and practice prevention.
- Anyone—no matter their skin tone—can develop melanoma.
- Use the 5 S's of Sun Safety.
- Avoid the use of tanning beds. In fact, just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 20%, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Second, be aware of changes in your skin.
- Perform skin checks regularly so that you can recognize changes. Check out how to perform a self-skin exam here. Don’t forget to look at hard-to-see places such as under your hair or on your back.
- Know the A.B.C.D.E. rule to help identify melanoma warning signs. Review them here. If you notice a mole that is Asymmetrical, has irregular Borders, has a variety of Colors or is very dark, is large is Diameter (6mm or more), or is Evolving and changing over time, make an appointment with a dermatologist to be evaluated.
To learn more about melanoma, visit https://www.aad.org/media/stats-melanoma
Melanoma Monday kicks off Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer U.S., and in the world. In our country, one in every five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer by age 70. Stay tuned for more information on skin cancer and sun safety this May!
Anita Savell has been serving our Northern Nevada community for nearly a decade through volunteering. Now a third-year medical student at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, she looks forward to serving the community as a future physician. She has volunteered with Nevada Cancer Coalition’s Sun Smart Nevada and Sun Smart Schools programs since 2017.