How you can prevent the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, before it's too late in Kington, New York

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is a maligant tumor that develops on the skin.  After melanoma spreads beyond its original location on the skin, it is virtually incurable.  Only 36% of persons suffering from metastatic melanoma are alive one year after the diagnosis.  This is scary stuff!  Diagnosing melanoma in its earliest stage is crucial to your survival.

What can you do to detect melanoma at its earliest stage

When you have an abnormal growth on your skin, GO TO A DERMATOLOGIST! Chances are that you do not have skin cancer, but a biopsy of the abnormal growth is the only way to know for sure.

The signs of melanoma are characterized as A, B, C and D: Asymmetry of one half of the abnormal skin growth is different than the other half; Borders: The lesion or growth has irregular border edges; Color changes from one area to another, with shades of tan, black or brown.  A mixture of colors may appear within one sore; and Diameter: The trouble spot is usually larger than 6 millimeters--about the size of a pencil eraser.  Call your doctor if a skin growth changes in color, size or texture.

You should inspect your skin once a month for new growths. ny change in the appearance of a skin sore is a warning sign.  Also, watch for any bleeding from a skin growth. The chance of a cure is greatest when the tumor is small and can be entirely removed surgically.

What you can do to prevent skin cancer

Sounds like common sense, but you should always use a sunscreen wtih a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and minimize sun exposure.  The highest rates of skin cancer occur in warm weather climates, such as Florida and Australia.

Avoid tanning beds!  Tanning beds are carcinogenic, according to a 2009 study by the World Health Organization.  People who  begin using tanning devices before age 30 are 75% more likely to develop skin cancer.

If you have an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with melanoma, you are at increased risk.  Certain genes increase your risk of melanoma and you may want to have genetic testing performed to assess your risk of melanoma.

Why skin cancer is so deadly

When skin cancer, such as melanoma, spreads from the surface of the skin (epidermis) to the lymph nodes, the cancer is almost incurable.  The melanoma spreads from the lymph nodes through the blood stream where it attacks vital organs, such as the brain, liver, lungs and kidneys.  A diagnosis of metastatic melanoma is close to a death sentence, so the goal is prevention and early detection.

If you want more information about skin cancer, here's what you can do

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