SARASOTA, Fla. -- Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. And of the seven most common cancers in the U.S., melanoma is the only one whose numbers are increasing.
“Welcome to paradise” is the greeting for new residents and visitors of the Suncoast, but beach days without protection and tanning booths may be the very thing that triggers a malignant melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers.
Do you know your risk?
It’s more prevalent in young adults, so for people who don't think they might have skin cancer -- for example young adults age 25 to 29 -- it's the most common form of skin cancer,” says Dr. Isaac Zamora. “Tanning and sunburning and going to the beach is the lifestyle we have in Sarasota; which is a great lifestyle, but unfortunately, it's detrimental to the skin, and melanoma is going to show up from excessive ultraviolet light exposure.”
But melanoma doesn’t discriminate, and one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double your chances of developing melanoma later in life.
“I had a melanoma that I discovered myself, about eight or nine years ago, on my abdomen, which was a mole that was looking just a little bit abnormal to me.” Dermatologist Dr. Isaac Zamora says he recognized warning signs and immediately did a biopsy. “It was cut out and totally cured. That is the take home message, that when you get a melanoma at the very earliest stages they are a hundred percent cureable.”
A melanoma can spread to your lymphatic system even into the blood stream, which may require surgery to remove lymph nodes and chemotherapy. “Once the melanoma gets into the lymph or the blood system, it is very dangerous. Unfortunately, patients could die within six months.”
Here's an easy way to check for warning signs:
A is for asymmetry -- does one half look different than the other?
B are the border edges -- irregular or ragged.
C does the color vary?
D is diameter -- melanomas are generally bigger than 6 millimeters, although some may be smaller
E is for evolution -- look for change in size, shape or symptoms