Since it’s the summer and this is the time of year that we tend to expose the most of our body to the sun, I thought I would write about our skin. I was talking to a patient of mine recently, and he mentioned how hard it was to find a dermatologist in the laurentians. I immediately thought he must be mistaken because in the States, most mid-sized towns and certainly an area as large as the laurentians would have at least one dermatologist and most likely a few. I conducted an internet search, please correct me if I am wrong, and found that there were exactly three dermatologists from St. Jerome north. Actually, I heard that the dermatologist in St.-Saveur was retiring, so that leaves two dermatologists in this general area. Astounding! I use the word astounding, because UV levels in general are rising due to a decrease in the ozone layer, and we, as a whole, are being subjected to much more UV radiation, which besides aging the skin, creating wrinkles and leading to sunburns, can cause melanoma.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanomas often resemble moles.

Whenever I notice an unusual skin growth on a patient, I use this easy way to look for warning signs of skin cancer. It goes from A to E and I hope it helps.

  • A stands for asymmetrical.
  • B stands for border. A malignant growth tends to have uneven edges.
  • C stands for color. A worrisome growth tends to have a variety of colors.
  • D stands for diameter. Benign moles tend to be smaller. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm).
  • E stands for evolution. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change over time.

melanoma A to E

If you notice any or all of these signs on a skin growth, be sure and contact your doctor as soon as possible. If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. I would suggest to anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun, or who is genetically predisposed to melanoma that they have a health care professional scan their entire body for any unusual growths.

Enjoy the sun, but be safe!

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