Recent news reports revealing that first lady Laura Bush had a skin-cancer tumor removed from her right shin last month, which might have been caused from prolonged sun exposure, brings into focus the general need for self-evaluation.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, everyone should be conducting a monthly skin evaluation of their body, taking note of spots, freckles, bumps and growths that show up, paying close attention to places such as the head and neck, where the majority of skin cancers occur.
But, as was the case with the first lady, concerns should not be restricted only there.
With so many individuals placing themselves at risk for skin cancer, the ASDS offers the following advice:
· Beware of sores that aren't healing: Sometimes, what people may perceive as an annoying pimple that won't go away is really something more serious, and possibly an early form of skin cancer.
· Monitor your moles: Since melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — usually develops in a pre-existing mole, it's important to closely monitor the size, shape, color and number of moles on the skin. Year to year, if any change is noted, a physician should be consulted immediately.
· Be cautious of bleeding and scabbing: Any area of the skin that's bleeding, scabbing or releasing fluids is extremely dangerous, and a dermasurgeon should be consulted immediately.
· Monitor exposure to the sun: The more sun exposure, the more risk of skin cancer. People who work outside or individuals who live in tropical climates must understand they are not immune to the sun, and that the application of sunscreen is vital throughout the year. The sun is just as damaging to the skin during the winter months as it is in the summer.
· Know your genes: If there is a history of skin cancer in your family — and you have light hair and lights eyes — you are at a greater risk for skin cancer, and should always protect yourself with sunscreen.
· Visit a dermasurgeon annually: Since only a physician can determine whether an area of the skin is cancerous, an annual screening is necessary to identify skin cancer in early stages.
To locate a dermasurgeon in your area, visit: www.asds.net.