top of page

Spotting Melanoma Skin Cancer Could Save Your Life Memphis Dermatologist

By George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (02/19/2024)

The number of cases of both Melanoma and Skin Cancer continues to rise, so as a Board-certified Memphis Dermatologist, I would like to share with you several key facts that could save your life. An American dies from Malignant Melanoma about every fifty minutes. Many of these people's lives could be saved by early detection and early treatment. So, let’s look at several key pointers for detecting Melanoma and Skin Cancer early. My Memphis Dermatology practice has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova, TN 38018, since 1993 (a suburb of Memphis, TN; 1-901-753-0168;


Key point #1:  What is Melanoma?


Sometimes called Melanoma Cancer. What are Melanoma Symptoms?

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of Skin Cancer, originating from the pigment-producing cells of the Skin, the Melanocytes. Ironically, those same cells that make the Skin’s protective pigment, Melanin, against Ultraviolet damage sometimes go haywire and become malignant or cancerous themselves. Other important types of Skin Cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, much more common than Melanoma and also caused by UV rays but less prone to be deadly.


Melanoma tends to have varies hues of Color with an irregular Border and Asymmetry
Closeup of this same patient's forehead Malignant Melanoma

Key point #2: Who’s at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer?

The real question is, Who’s at ESPECIALLY high risk? Because the reality is that we’re ALL at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer, not just fair-complected people.


The traditional “especially high-risk” people for the development of Melanoma and Skin Cancer include:

  • Red-heads and blonde individuals, but in reality most cases occur in those with brown, black, or gray-haired individuals, because there are a lot more brunettes out there.

  • People with 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.

  • 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. See a movie sponsored by my Cordova Dermatology practice: YouTube: “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis: Scarlet’s Story.” It tells the story of Scarlet, a student studying to be a teacher at Ole Miss who found out while seven months pregnant that she had metastatic Melanoma.  



Key Point #3: How can you prevent Melanoma?

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” protects 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) 


It’s a wise move in the Summer is “sun protection” by wearing sun-protective clothing when out. Blue, black, or orange Rayon-base, Nylon-based, or Cotton-based fabrics seem most helpful, particularly after they have been laundered several times. 


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


Key Point #4: Spotting a suspicious lesion for Melanoma or Skin Cancer early is key to effective treatment.

But what do you look for in a Skin Cancer Screening?  A good rule of thumb for people to use at home is the “A, B, C, D, E’s,” 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 purple,  

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

E=Evolving or changing lesion. 


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



Advances in Dermatologic Surgery have improved our abilities as Dermatologists to improve Melanoma Treatment and Skin Cancer Treatment. Most Skin Cancers and Melanomas are treated with “excisional surgery,” whereby the Dermatologist cuts out the malignant cells under local anesthetic, out-patient.

Mohs Surgery, available in my own Dermatology practice since 2004, is a way of checking the margins of tissue removed while the patient is still in the office. Our goal is to clear the surgical margins of malignant skin cells. We can even treat “pre-malignant” skin growths, like Solar Keratosis or Actinic Keratosis, with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), or prescription creams: Efudex, Fluoroplex, Imiquimod (Aldara), and Retin A (Tretinoin).  


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 Board-certified Dermatologist closer to you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology’s website,, 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: You could do an inspection of your loved ones at home, your own type of "Skin Cancer Screening" when they're undressed or naked, then bring that family member to the attention of a Board-certified Dermatologist or a "Dermatologist Near Me" if you spot a suspicious lesion. Go on your own Mole Patrol!

George Woodbury Jr. MD 

Board-certified Memphis Dermatologist and President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc 

8143 Walnut Grove Road 

Cordova TN 38018  




Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page