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Melanoma Skin Cancer Facts From a Memphis Dermatologist

by George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (07/10/2024)

  The number of cases of both Melanoma and Skin Cancer continues to rise, so let’s take a look at several essential facts about Skin Cancer and Melanoma that might save your life – or that of a family member or friend – from my perspective of a Board certified Memphis Dermatologist with Rheumatology and Dermatology, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN 38018, since 1993 (a Cordova Dermatologist: 1-901-753-0168).



Key Fact #1:  Who’s at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer? The real question is who’s at ”ESPECIALLY high risk.” Everyone is in fact at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer, not just fair-complected people.



The traditional “especially high risk” people include:


  *Red-heads and blonde individuals, though in reality most cases of Melanoma and Skin cancer develop in those with brown, black, or gray-haired individuals, possibly because these individuals are less wary of the sun, and may spend more time in Ultraviolet (UV) light, or even use dangerous indoor tanning.

  *People of Scotch-Irish, English, German, or Scandinavian ancestry, but remember that the famous Afro-Caribbean Reggae musician Bob Marley died of Melanoma at the age of 36, from a spot that originated on his foot, so everyone is at risk, not just fair-complected people.

  *People who tend to burn or peel in the sun, especially those with a history of blistering sunburns. 

  *People who have worked in or played in the sun, or those who have lived in Sunbelt states like Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona, including golfers, cyclists, skiers, sailors, and tennis players. 

  *People who have used ultraviolet rays (UV rays) at tanning salons.  



Kay Fact #2: the best moves in prevention of Melanoma and Skin Cancer include: 

  *Avoidance of midday sun, between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. 

  *Proper use of “broad-spectrum sunscreen” protecting against both traditional UVB rays but also against the newly-appreciated-as-also dangerous UVA rays. Look for an SPF or Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher.  Remember to reapply every ninety minutes.

  *A personal favorite sunscreen, less likely to run into one’s eyes, is Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50, now available through Big River Silk Skincare (, an organic and natural skincare products manufacturer and distributor of which I have been President since 2016 (3.5 oz=$18.95) 

  *Remember to reapply that sunscreen, for both yourself and your children, every 90 minutes when out. And it takes about 2 ounces to adequately cover a full-sized adult.  



Key Fact #3: Spotting a suspicious lesion for Melanoma or Skin Cancer early is key to effective treatment. Dermatologists watch for the “A, B, C, D, E” warning signs, first described by Drs. Al Knopf and Daryl Rigel of New York University: 

A=Asymmetry: the profile of one half of the lesion doesn’t match the other half. 

B=Border irregularity: the profile of the margins of the lesion is jagged, like the coast of Maine, rather than smooth, like the coast of California. 

C=Color Variation: different hues of brown, black, gray, or even purple,  

D=Darker Color, when compared with the person’s other moles, or D=Diameter is enlarging, and  

E=Evolving or changing lesion. 



An Important Warning: some Melanomas and Skin Cancers like “Amelanotic Melanoma” do not show any of the A, B, C, D, E characteristics. If you or a family member is especially high risk, do your own checks at home, but also definitely get checked periodically by a Board-certified Dermatologist.  


Key Fact #4: The most common location on the body for Melanoma in men is the back, and for women it’s the legs. But Melanoma can arise anywhere on a person’s body, either from a preexisting Mole or Nevus or an Atypical Mole, or even from areas of skin without a preexisting Mole. Melanoma can even occur in the groin or inside the mouth, or in the back of the eye. So to do an effective Skin Cancer Screening, you really need to look over your entire body.


  Dermatologists can now achieve better Melanoma cancer outcomes. Most Skin Cancers and Melanomas are treated with “excisional surgery,” whereby the Dermatologic Surgeon cuts out the malignant cells under local anesthetic, out-patient. Mohs Surgery, available in my own Memphis Dermatology practice since 2004, is a way of checking the margins of tissue removed while the patient is still in the office, the goal being to clear the surgical margins of malignant skin cells. We can even treat “pre-malignant” skin growth, like an Actinic Keratosis or Actinic Keratoses, with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), or prescription creams: Efudex, Fluoroplex, Imiquimod (Aldara), and Retin A (Tretinoin).  



For more tips on Melanoma and for Melanoma pictures, check out a short movie sponsored by myself as a Cordova Dermatologist: YouTube: “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis: Scarlet’s Story.” It tells the story of Scarlet, a 26 year old student studying to be a teacher at Ole Miss who found out while seven months pregnant that she had metastatic Melanoma.  




My own Memphis Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery practice since 1993 has been at Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates (, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN, 38018, (1-901-753-0168), near Bartlett, Arlington, Germantown, Collierville, and East Memphis. Or you can find a “Best Dermatologist Near Me” by going to the American Academy of Dermatology’s web site,, then plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.


  Don’t delay. Get a Skin Cancer Screening or Melanoma Check today. It could save your life, or that of a loved one.  


PS: Big River Silk Skincare has now released a new product for 2024: GlycoShea Facial&Neck Lotion/Standard Strength, combining the antiwrinkle cream properties of Glycolic Acid with Refined Shea Butter. GlycoShea can be used as a once or twice a day application to areas of skin dryness, and it can be incorporated as an exfoliating moisturizer into acne treatment or eczema treatment or psoriasis treatment. Check GlycoShea out at

George Woodbury Jr. MD 

8143 Walnut Grove Road 

Cordova TN 38018  



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