Sneak Attack!!! Melanomas Don’t Take Time Off
September 23, it’s a huge day for me. It’s my son’s birthday, my first born. Also, it’s the beginning of fall. Baseball playoffs, football, hockey and hoops, back to school, there is a lot going on. Oh did I mention that summer was over, too. For those of us in the north, this means fewer cookouts and more corn mazes, fewer beach trips and more hay rides.
What it does not mean
Here is what it does not mean. It does not mean that I can stop being aware of sun exposure. It does not mean that I can put away the sunscreen with my flip-flops and swim trunks and it does not mean that I do not have to concern myself with mole checks. It does not mean that I can stop being diligent about sun protection, skin cancer detection, and all that.
Melanomas attack anytime
According to Dr. Ross Perry in the United Kingdom, melanomas don’t take the time off. They don’t take the fall, winter, and spring off. He says, “We need to be vigilant all the time as this is not just a summer illness or condition, it can occur at any time of the year. It’s not that they are more prevalent in the summer, we’re just more aware of them when everyone is in shorts, T-shirts or bikinis.”1
Perform skin checks every season
Evidently, melanomas can strike when you might not expect it. Dr. Perry goes on to state, “Melanoma can occur at any time in your life, to anyone, and the aggressive black moles are more likely to appear in sun-exposed sites but can occur anywhere on your body.”1 This means that we must not take the fall, winter and spring off as well. Dr. Perry recommends regular self-checks every two weeks and seeing a dermatologist if you see any changes in moles.1 Skin care is a year-round occupation.
Tech help is available
Dr. Perry recommends tracking your moles with computer applications (apps), such as Miiskin or Skin Vision. Miiskin does not help you diagnose skin cancer, but can help track changes to moles that can alert you to see a doctor.1 Skin Vision is an application that “enables you to do unlimited digital skin checks for an entire year. This service includes personal doctor’s advice on each high-risk skin spot and double check of every skin check by our specialized team of in-house dermatologists.”2
Try them out
I cannot personally vouch for either Miiskin or Skin Vision, but will be experimenting with both applications this fall and winter. Making use of technology cannot hurt, but is not a substitute for seeing a doctor who can touch and manipulate your skin and make a proper evaluation. Dr. Perry makes this clear, “The only option is to keep an eye on your moles and report them if you’re worried.”1
There is never an off day
I really wish that I could take some time off from concerning myself with my skin. I would like a vacation from mole checks, biopsies, and doctor’s visits, a weekend away from sun protection. But as long as this enemy is always lurking, I will be on high alert.
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