Melanoma – Dying for the Sun

Excellent video about prevention and treatment of melanoma.

 “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds a dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”

-Susan Sontag


Melanoma land is a place you don’t want to visit. It is the fast lane to cancer at a young age when you have better things to do, like live. The diagnosis smacks you on the side of the head. You walk into the doctor’s office a healthy person and you leave as a cancer patient. Just like that.

How did it happen? If you are red headed, blonde, blue eyed, have lots of moles or freckles, have spent hours in the sun or in tanning booths, you get fast tracked. Some are unlucky and have melanoma in their family. In melanoma risk, genes do matter.

Here is the good news. Doctors are much better at diagnosing melanoma. Tools like dermoscopy enable the doctor to see a mole’s architecture better than the naked eye. Although the incidence of melanoma has risen, 70% of melanomas are now diagnosed at a treatable stage. When this occurs, removal can be a cure. The concerning melanoma is the thicker one. If a melanoma is more than 4 millimeter’s thick when first seen, only 40% of patients will make it to five year survival.

How do you prevent melanoma? Most people know this information, but many ignore it some or much of the time.  For a summary of preventative measures, visit this site:

I am going to assume that you are already at risk and tell you what to look for. If you are a white female, melanoma often appears on the lower legs or the back. I estimate 70% of the melanomas I see on women are on the lower legs including the feet. For white males, it’s the back and the trunk. (I do see facial melanoma but it is more common in older people). An individual with 100 common moles or five abnormal (but noncancerous) moles is at a seven fold increased risk for melanoma.

Have a regular skin checkup by your doctor, especially if you have a lot of moles or freckles. New moles, especially at 50 years of age, could be a concern. Mention to your doctor any moles on your soles, between the toes or in the nail beds. Be aware of the ABCDE of melanoma. If this term is new to you, look at one of the following websites to learn about the ABCDE’s of melanoma diagnosis, and remember, the key to survival is early diagnosis.

For more info on the topic of prevention and early diagnosis go to:

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