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Your Healthy Family: ABCD's of melanoma awareness - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: ABCD's of melanoma awareness

May is Melanoma awareness month.  Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and melanoma is the deadliest form. May is Melanoma awareness month. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and melanoma is the deadliest form.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

May is Melanoma awareness month.  Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and melanoma is the deadliest form.

Only about 1 percent of all skin cancers are diagnosed as melanoma, but it?s responsible for most skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

Brian Gastman, M.D. treats melanoma at Cleveland Clinic and said people are surviving longer these days thanks to newer treatments that boost the immune system to attack the cancer.  

?These immunotherapies, these therapies that increase the immune system?s strength if you will, they basically un-blind the immune system and they go after the tumor, anywhere the tumor may be,? said Dr. Gastman.

Dr. Vishal Rana, an oncologist with UCHealth Memorial says when it comes to melanoma, "It’s  a big deal, melanoma is one of the cancer's who's incidents are going up as compared to many others that are going down."

Dr. Rana adds, that while he's fully qualified to treat skin cancer he would much rather work to prevent it and catching melanoma early is all about knowing the A-B-C-D’s of melanoma.

"A is asymmetry, if you see that a mole is asymmetric 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 it's 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 we do worry about that lesion changing from a benign lesion to a malignant lesion."

Dr. Rana also emphasizes It's especially important to pay attention to those A-B-C-D’s of melanoma living at altitude.

"Skin cancer 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 some would get at sea level, therefore the rates of melanoma and skin cancers are higher in Colorado."

Doctors recommend the following sun safety measures:

- Seek shade when outdoors
- Wear sun protective clothing
- Wear a hat and sunglasses
- Apply sunscreen; products labeled ?broad spectrum? with an SPF of 30 or higher are best

If you love that golden tan, there are now many self tanning products on the market that have come along way, and won't leave you looking orange.  Self tanning lotions can also help you avoid UV rays, keeping your skin healthy while giving you a healthy tan look.  If you have any moles you're worried about based on those A-B-C-D’s have them looked at by your doctor or a dermatologist.

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