Spotting Skin Cancer/Melanoma Early-Memphis Dermatologist
by George Woodbury Jr. M.D., Board-certified Dermatologist at Rheumatology and Dermatology, 05/15/2022
Dermatologist George Woodbury examining moles on a young man who enjoys outdoors sports.
* who’s at risk,
*how to prevent Melanoma and Skin Cancer,
*how to spot Melanoma and Skin Cancer early,
First, who’s at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer? But this is really a kind of trick question! What I should ask is, “who’s at ESPECIALLY high risk, because we’re ALL at risk of Melanoma and Skin Cancer.
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 35, 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 lights (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.
Secondly, 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 “newly-appreciated-as-also dangerous” UVA rays. Look for an SPF or Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher.
A personal favorite sunscreen, less likely to run into one’s eyes, is Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 50, now available through Big River Silk Skincare (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com), an organic and natural skincare products manufacturer and distributor of which I have been president since 2016 (3.5 oz=$17.95)
It’s a wise move to wear 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 adequately cover a full-sized adult.
The man above has a type of Melanoma on his forehead.
Thirdly, how can you at home spot a lesion suspicious for Melanoma or Skin Cancer early? 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.
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.
The lesion below is a Melanoma. Note the various shades of brown, and assymetric profile, and the jagged edges.
Advances in Dermatologic Surgery have improved our abilities as Dermatologists to both diagnose and treat Melanoma and Skin Cancer early. Most Skin Cancers and Melanomas are treated with “excisional surgery,” cutting out of 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 being to clear the surgical margins of malignant skin cells. We can even treat “pre-malignant” skin growths, like Solar Keratoses or Actinic Keratoses, with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), or prescription creams: Efudex, Fluoroplex, Picato, Imiquimod (Aldara), and Retin A (Tretinoin).
The bottom line: Don’t delay: get a Skin Cancer and Melanoma Check today. It could save your life, or that of a loved one. So if you spot a lesion with one or more of these warning signs, or if you are especially high risk to start with, for Melanoma or Skin Cancer, consider getting a Skin Cancer checkup. My own Memphis Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery practice since 1993 has been at Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates (www.Rheumderm.com), 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 web site, www.AAD.org, then plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.
George Woodbury Jr. MD
8143 Walnut Grove Road
Cordova TN 38018