365 days of celebration


National Skin Self-Examination Day

Posted by Brittany

National Skin Self-Examination DayThe first Monday of May is Nat’l Skin Self-Examination Day, also known as “Melanoma Monday.” On this day people are encouraged to examine their bodies for skin cancer and learn more about the detection and prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers. When caught in its earliest stages, melanoma can usually be cured. However, if left untreated it is likely to spread to other parts of the body. Although melanomas make up less than five percent of skin cancer cases, they account for most skin cancer fatalities, and statistics show that most caucasians have a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma. Prevention is a key factor to limiting your risk; proper skin coverage, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses can help to shield your body from harmful UV light.

Although my family does not have a direct history of melanoma, we have been affected by its devastating consequences. Almost twelve years ago my dad’s best friend, Budd, lost his battle with his second recurrence of melanoma. “Uncle Budd” was a Vietnam veteran and I’d heard him talk about how badly he’d gotten sunburned while overseas, and how he thought that might have been the cause of his skin cancer. And it’s true that even just one or two bad sunburns can increase your likelihood for developing this deadly form of skin cancer. My dad had known Budd since high school and losing him while they were both just barely fifty was a difficult thing.

In observance of Melanoma Monday, and in memory of my Uncle Budd, Chris and I performed skin self-examinations in front of our bathroom mirror this evening. To perform a thorough examination you need to strip down to nothing and examine all parts of your body — even under your arms, between your toes, and behind your ears — using a hand mirror when necessary. There are five things to consider when looking over any moles you encounter during this task, called the ABCDEs of skin examination: Asymmetry (is one half of the mole different from the other?), Border (is it scalloped or poorly defined?), Color (does it vary from one area to another?), Diameter (is it bigger than 6mm?), and Evolving (does it look different than our other moles, or is it changing?).

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