Melanoma has become an epidemic here in the United States. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma typically begins in the form of a mole, and, at more advanced stages, can spread quickly to other parts of the body. Individuals, particularly those who are at a high risk of developing melanoma, are encouraged to visit a dermatologist for a skin exam. Despite this recommendation, however, many individuals have their primary healthcare provider perform a skin check-up for the detection of skin cancers rather than making a separate visit to a dermatologist.
Each year, more than a 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, most being over the age of 50. Skin cancer - mainly caused by ultraviolet light (heredity plays a role too) - is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. World renowned Medical Oncologist and Homeopathic Physician James W. Forsythe says that this deadly disease can be cured if caught early. “It's also the most preventable and curable cancer. While anyone can get it, those highest at risk are people who have fair skin and freckle easily.” The different types of skin cancer are the following:
Basal cell carcinoma: The most common type and rarely if ever, fatal.
Squamous cell carcinoma: Rarely fatal but can spread quickly and increase the risk of future skin cancers
Melanoma: The rarest but deadliest form, it can spread to other organs if not detected and treated early. The following picture illustrates an example of a suspicious mole that resembles melanoma.
If you have a suspicious mole that looks similar to this shape or an old mole that has changes, or sores that don’t heal, Dr. Forsythe recommends seeing a health professional in order to detect the early signs of skin cancer and the following ways you can protect yourself from melanoma.
Self-exams: Along with yearly skin exams by a dermatologist, monthly self-examinations are the best way to detect the early signs of skin cancer. Check your entire body, and be on the look-out for new growths, moles that have changed, or sores that don't heal. For self-examination tips and actual pictures of what to look for see www.skincancer.org.
Dr. Forsythe’s Sun Protection Tips
Sun protection: Here are some tips and new products to help ward off harmful sun rays. And remember, it's never too late to start protecting your skin:
• Stay in: Avoid the sun when possible from 10 am to 4 pm when the UV rays are most intense.
• Use sunscreen: Be sure to choose a product that provides UVA and UVB protection and has a SPF (sun-protection factor) of at least 30. Sunscreen should be applied generously about 20 minutes before you head out the door, and reapplied every two hours, as well as after you've been sweating or swimming.
• Spray-on protection: Have you tried the new "continuous spray" clear mist sunscreen? They're easier to apply and reapply and less messy than the lotions you have to rub on.
• Sunscreen foods: Studies show that some high-antioxidant foods (tomatoes, pomegranate, fatty fish, green tea and chocolate) can help prevent and repair sun damage.
• Sun pills: There's a nonprescription sun-pill on the market, called Heliocare that provides additional UV protection. The pills are intended to supplement sunscreen, and are sold at drugstore chains for about $60 for a bottle of 60 pills.
• Cover up: Thick or tightly woven cloths can help prevent the sun's rays from reaching your skin or you can purchase a variety of lightweight clothing and hats that offer maximum UV protection in their fabric. See coolibar.com and sunprecautions.com.
• Wash-in protection: SunGuard laundry additive is another option that allows you to wash an invisible shield of sun protection right into your cloths. See sunguardsunprotection.com.
• Monitor yourself: You can now buy UV monitors (for around $30) to warn you when you've had enough sun exposure. You program them with your skin type, and the SPF of your sunscreen, and they'll calculate the strength of the days UV rays and use that to count down the time you can stay outside safely. To find UV monitors go to www2.oregonscientific.com or atomix time.com.
• Sun shades: Wraparound shades with UV protection can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
The most common treatment for basal and squamous cell cancers and some precancerous growths is surgical removal. This is usually a simple procedure done right in the dermatologist's office, using local anesthetic. Other treatment options are freezing, chemotherapy creams, photodynamic therapy and radiation. Standard treatment for melanoma is also surgical removal. In advanced cases however, chemotherapy or radiation may also be used. If you or someone you love has a suspicious mole, please visit your healthcare provider. Early detection is the difference between life and death when it comes to cancer.
The opinions expressed in the newsletter article belong to the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Century Wellness Clinic and Cancer Screening & Treatment Center of Nevada. The information provided at this site and specifically newsletters are for informational purposes and are not intended for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional
The information contained in this Health Report is intended for education purposes only. It is intended to complement—not replace—the advice provided by healthcare providers.
Lisa Marie Wark is currently a free lance writer and is a business development consultant with a concentration in medical spas and alternative clinics. Currently she is President of MedSpas, a business development firm that provides physicians the necessary business tools to help them build or expand their practices into medical spa facilities. Wark was formerly an anchor and financial reporter for ON24 Financial News in San Francisco. In 2001, she was promoted to the main female anchor of three financial news broadcasts, covering a broad range of financial sectors and industries.