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Your Healthy Family: Melanoma Warning Signs

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Melanoma is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if it’s caught early, but it is still a serious form of cancer, says Dr. Vishal Rana with UCHealth Memorial.  “It is a big deal. Melanoma is one of the cancers whose incidents are going up as compared to many others that are going down."

An oncologist, Dr. Rana is fully capable of treating melanoma but says he would prefer to prevent it rather than treat it.  Sunscreen and protective clothing is a good first line of defense, and  so is changing the behavior of seeking a golden tan from the sun,  Dr. Rana says

"A big pet peeve of mine is sun tanning.  Kids and teenagers should be very careful when they go to sun tanning.  Many states have made it illegal for kids less than 18, for example in California it's illegal because we know that high UV rays in the sun tanning beds are very harmful for our skin, and they cause melanoma"

Dr. Rana adds paying close attention to one’s skin and naturally occurring moles is important to catching melanoma early, and it all boils down to the “A-B-C-D’s.”

"A is asymmetry, if you see that a mole is asymmetric, if it’s texture is different from one part to the other part of the same mole.

"B is for border, if you see a mole and its borders are irregular.

"C is for color, that means the color is different instead of one homogeneous color. The color of that mole is different from one part of that mole to the other part."

"D is for diameter, how big that mole is.  Anything more than 6 millimeters in size we worry about that lesion changing from a benign lesion to a malignant lesion."

Dr. Rana also reminds us that while there are so many aspects to living in beautiful Colorado, it's especially important to pay attention to those A-B-C-D’s in the Rocky Mountains.

"Melanoma is a very high risk malignancy in states like Colorado where we get plenty of sun.  With the altitude, the sun rays are more concentrated and we get far more UV rays than at sea level, therefore the rates of melanoma and skin cancers are higher in Colorado."

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