Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
May is Melanoma prevention month.
Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists are called upon to evaluate and treat skin lesions. Sometimes the reconstructions can get quite extensive. Melanoma touches many lives: patients, their families and our own families. The Chairman of Surgery where I trained tragically died of a non-pigmented Melanoma. He was so busy taking care of everyone around him that he put off getting himself checked until it was too late. He was a great man, and taught me a great many things. That, unfortunately, was a tragic lesson where I wish he did not use himself as an example.
A few facts about Melanoma:
• One person dies every hour in the U.S. of Melanoma.
• Melanoma accounts for only 4% of the cases of skin cancer, but an astonishing 80% of deaths from skin cancer.
• Most melanomas arise in the skin. But they can also occur in other parts of the body, including: the eye, sole of the feet and hands/nails, inside the nose or mouth, and in the central nervous system.
• In the U.S., someone is diagnosed with melanoma every eight minutes.
• Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the world. In the U.S., the incidence of melanoma has tripled over the past three decades.
• Identifying melanoma early is the key to beating it. If detected in the very early stage, melanoma can be cured with surgery more than 90% of the time. On the other hand, patients with Stage IV melanoma have a life expectancy of less than a year.
• One in every 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
To detect melanoma early, look for changes in your skin following the ABCDEs of melanoma. These include: moles or growths that are…
If you notice one or more of these signs, visit your healthcare provider.
How to Prevent Melanoma:
You can follow three simple steps to reduce your risk: protect yourself from the sun, avoid indoor tanning, and know your skin and examine it regularly.
• Wear sunscreen when going outside. It’s important to make sunscreen a daily habit 365 days of the year. UV radiation can still damage skin even in the winter and on cloudy days.
• If you have fair skin, red or blonde hair and light eyes, a history of sunburn or UV exposure, or a family history of melanoma, you could be at higher risk for skin cancer. Talk to your dermatologist or health care provider about the benefits of regular skin examinations.
• Indoor tanning has been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by up to 75%. Melanoma is the number one new cancer diagnosed in young adults (ages 25-29), and scientists attribute this trend to the use of tanning beds among this age group, particularly young women. Protect yourself by avoiding tanning beds.
Australia has been in the forefront in the fight against Melanoma. Aussies have a very high rate of this disease. This has been recognized and they have had a large public awareness and education campaign. Some notes worth repeating on the subject of individual prevention:
Seek shade to avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm). Remember that reflection of UV radiation off surfaces like concrete, sand and water causes you to burn, even if you think you are protected. Use sun shelters or shade whenever possible (e.g.; trees, umbrella, buildings), and choose shade carefully.
Try to cover as much skin as possible with clothing. Wear protective shirts which cover the back of the neck. Choose clothing with closely woven fabric or with a UV rating.
Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+, and which is also broad spectrum and water resistant, no matter what type of skin you have. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out and reapply every 2 hours, after swimming or any activity that causes you to sweat.
Wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face, head, ears and neck from the sun. Caps do not provide adequate protection.
Protect your eyes with wrap-around sunglasses.
Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.