are you aware of just how deadly melanoma can be ii

In our last post, we started discussing the dangers presented by melanoma, an especially dangerous type of skin cancer that statistics show is responsible for more than 9,700 deaths here in the United States every year.

Today, we’ll examine some of the ways in which people can protect themselves from this deadly condition.

Are there people who are more susceptible to developing melanoma?

Yes. It goes without saying that those who either frequent tanning salons or spend prolonged periods of sun outdoors without taking precautions are at an elevated risk of developing melanoma.

Furthermore, people who are fair-skinned, or have freckles, over 100 moles, a history of severe sunburns or a prior history of skin cancer are at an elevated risk of developing skin cancer.

What can people do to protect themselves from melanoma?

One of the most important things people can do to protect themselves from melanoma is to practice what is known as “sun safety.” This means wearing the proper sunscreen, reflective clothing and/or hats if spending large amounts of time in the sun. It also means taking these precautions year round, as the danger posed by exposure to ultraviolet radiation doesn’t abate with the weather.

Of course, it also means avoiding tanning salons.

Are there any sorts of self-exams that people can perform?

Medical experts have devised two tests that people can use to detect the possible presence of melanoma, the first of which is known as the “ABCDE test.”

Here, if a person thinks the appearance of a mole or moles on their body has changed, they should look for the following signs:

  • A- Is the mole asymmetrical, such that if you drew a line through the middle the halves wouldn’t be an equal match?
  • B- Are the borders of the mole uneven or notched?
  • C- Has the color of the mole changed colors?
  • D- Is the diameter of the mole larger than 6mm or, more easily, the standard pencil eraser?
  • E-Is the mole evolving in any trait (color, elevation, size, shape, etc.)?

The other test is known as the “ugly duckling test.” The idea here is much the same in that a person identifies a mole that stands out from those surrounding it. In essence, the person is looking for moles that could be considered outliers.

Medical experts indicate that anyone left with concerns after conducting either of these exams should make an appointment with a physician as soon as possible.

We will continue this conversation in our next post, discussing the devastating consequences that can result when a physician fails to diagnose melanoma. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that a physician has made a cancer misdiagnosis or failed to make a timely cancer diagnosis.

Source: The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Melanoma,” Accessed Feb. 2, 2015

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