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Melanoma Monday and Skin Cancer Awareness Month from a Memphis Dermatologist

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (05/07/2024)

We need your help for Melanoma Monday and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, May 2024. Data from the American Academy of Dermatology shows that about 200,340 people will be diagnosed with Melanoma this year, the most serious type of Skin Cancer, and unfortunately, about 8290 people will die of Melanoma this year. However, early detection makes treatment much easier and much more likely to lead to a permanent cure.

So let’s take a look at the scoop on Melanoma, my perspective being that of a Memphis Dermatologist with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova, TN 38018, since 1993.

What do Melanoma and the other main types of Skin Cancer look like? (Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma)

Dr. Al Kopf and Dr. Darrell Rigel of New York University first described what are called the A, B, C, D, and E’s of Melanoma, which are rules of thumb or warning signs of what lesions need to come to the prompt attention of a Board-certified Dermatologist:

A stands for Asymmetry: one half of the lesion does not match the other half.

B stands for Border: a jagged border, perhaps like the coast of Maine rather than of Florida.

C stands for Color change: different hues of brown or black within the lesion or one mole that’s a darker color than the person’s other moles.

D stands for an increasing Diameter of the lesion. 

E stands for Evolving: if the lesion is changing, it’s best to bring it to the attention of a Dermatologist.

Basal Cell Carcinoma often presents as a translucent or shiny red growth in a sun-exposed (or UV light-exposed) part of the body. Squamous Cell Carcinoma often presents as a rough or scabbed, bleeding lesion in the same distribution.

Secondly, what does a Dermatologist or a Dermatologic Surgeon like myself do about a suspected Melanoma or a suspected Basal Cell Carcinoma or Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

We generally remove the growth or lesion for evaluation by a special type of laboratory called a Dermatopathology Laboratory to establish whether it is truly a Melanoma, Basal Cell Skin Cancer, or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer. This testing generally requires the removal of some skin tissue, which is called a biopsy or a skin excision. Results generally take about a week to come back from the laboratory. Then, a dermatologist will often do a second procedure – called excisional surgery – to verify that the edges of the specimen removed are clear of skin cancer.

Sometimes we may do a special processing of the tissue called Mohs Surgery, or Mohs Micrographic Surgery, wherein the specimen can be processed through equipment right in the office, at the time of surgery, to try to verify that the margins are clear.

Thirdly – and this is where you come in – we need to detect Melanoma and other types of Skin Cancer much earlier than we are currently doing in the United States.

Early detection can often enable the lesion to be adequately treated by an in-office outpatient procedure without a lot of downtime. The best tool for early detection is to regularly undergo a Skin Cancer Screening, either by yourself, your significant other, or your Dermatologist. What does this involve?

First, you need to get to know your own moles and those of your family members because the average adult in the U.S. has between five and thirty-five normal moles – collections of pigment cells – that develop between the ages of five and thirty-five. When we examine patients, we’re looking for lesions that are out of step with a person’s other moles or changing. The highest priority areas of your body to get checked are the sun-exposed areas, but the most common location for Melanoma in men is on their backs, and in women, it’s the posterior leg, so really, you need to get your entire body checked.

Consider getting your loved ones completely undressed and naked, and look them over. Get into the office of a Board-certified Dermatologist near you if you find a lesion that is suspicious.

Fourthly, who’s at high risk?

In a nutshell, people who have lived in or played in the sun or used tanning salon bulbs can often be more intense in UV rays than natural sunlight.  High-risk people for Melanoma and Skin Cancer include those who tend to burn in the sun or freckles, those with blue eyes, or those with a history of one or more blistering sunburns. Remember, though, that Bob Marley, a Reggae Afro-Caribbean signer, developed Melanoma under his toenail, leading to his premature death at the age of 36 in 1981. So, really, everyone is at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer.

Melanoma tends to affected people above the age of 20
Scarlet Akins developed Melanoma while pregnant

If you would like more perspective on Melanoma, check out a short movie that my Memphis Dermatology practice sponsored for YouTube – Understanding the Melanoma Crisis Scarlet’s Story - about a 26-year-old student - Scarlet Akins – who was studying to become a teacher at Ole Miss – who started getting sick during her pregnancy. By the time Scarlet’s mother could take her to the doctor, her liver enzymes were off the wall, and she was found to have Metastatic Melanoma

Melanoma can be detected early by regular Skin Cancer Screening
Memphis Dermatologist Dr. George Woodbury counsels a patient about sun protection

With Melanoma Monday being Monday, May 6th, 2024, Check yourself out or get checked out. My own Memphis Dermatology practice since 1992 has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova, TN 38018 (1-901-753-0168). You can also find a “Dermatologist Near Me” or “Best Dermatologist Near Me” by going to the American Academy of Dermatology website,, then plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.

GlycoShea Facial&Neck Lotion has alpha hydroxy acid Glycolic Acid
Dr. George Woodbury with antiwrinkle cream GlycoShea Facial&Neck Lotion

PS: I am also President of Big River Silk Skincare, distributor of a broad-spectrum fragrance-free sunscreen – Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50 – especially helpful because it is less likely to run into your eyes. Check Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50 out at


George Woodbury Jr. M.D.

8143 Walnut Grove Road

Cordova TN 380178



President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc.

8143 Walnut Grove Road

Cordova TN 38018


Skin Cancer Screening involves doing an inspection to look for Skin Cancer
Dr. George Woodbury doing a Skin Cancer Screening



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