Melanoma Awareness: What you need to know
Summertime is usually everyone’s favourite season and for good reason. The weather is warm, you can enjoy more outdoor activities and the sun is out more than ever.
But the sun isn’t always your friend. It causes one of the most common types of cancer – melanoma, with an estimated 7,200 Canadians diagnosed with the disease in 2017 alone. Several celebrities have battled melanoma including Hugh Jackman, Diane Keaton and Khloe Kardashian.
Here are some ways you can detect, prevent and treat the disease.
Melanoma Awareness: Prevention
There are a number of things you can do to prevent melanoma, but the most important is to avoid overexposure to the suns damaging rays. UV rays are so powerful that they can get through clouds, fog, haze, and even on very cloudy days, UV radiation reaches the earth.
Wear protective clothing including sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats, and always wear sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. And this should go without saying, but do not use tanning beds. They can increase your chance of getting melanoma by 75 per cent.
These prevention methods are especially important for your kids. Studies have found that just one bad sunburn for children doubles their chance of developing melanoma as an adult.
Also, be aware of factors that make you more at risk. If you have fair skin, red or blonde hair, a history of skin cancer in your family or a large number of moles, you are going to have a higher risk.
Melanoma Awareness: Detection
It’s so important to know what to look for to detect melanoma. If you detect it early, science has shown that the chances of survival are very good.
When doing a self-examination, make sure you are thorough. In addition to checking what you can see on your own, have someone help you check your back, the back of your neck and ears, scalp and back of your legs.
You should be looking for unusual moles that are larger and are an irregular shape. They usually have a different colour than typical moles, ranging from a light pink to a very dark brown. The best bet is to use the “ABCDE rule” and check if the mole has any of the following irregularities – asymmetry, border, colour, diameter and evolution.
It isn’t just moles that can indicate melanoma. Check for any new growth on your skin that seems abnormal, including ones that have pearly nodules or anything with a crust or scaly patches. Look for any odd sores that have not healed or patches of skin that bleeds, itches or becomes red.
Melanoma Awareness: Management
Managing melanoma depends on the stage you are in and the location. In stage one and two the treatment is wide excision, a surgery that removes the melanoma and the skin around it. The doctor may also recommend a lymph node biopsy, and if they find more cancer cells then a lymph node dissection is typically done.
In stage three of melanoma wide incision surgery is performed and after immunotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapy is used to keep cancer from coming back. In stage four surgery and radiation therapy are used, although chemotherapy or immunotherapy may also be used.
Nurse Practitioner Keep Well Tips
If you are concerned about melanoma, you should talk to a medical professional as soon as possible. Catching melanoma in the early stages is crucial for the best outcome.
It is not always easy to talk to someone right away. Research has shown that 1 in 5 Canadians has to wait over a week for medical attention. Using video conferencing with a nurse practitioner is a great option and easy to do.
To arrange an appointment with one at Wello just follow a few simple steps . During your appointment make sure you do the following:
1. Position your camera near your monitor and place the video conferencing window close to the camera.
2. Place external microphones on your desk directly in front of you and away from your speakers to reduce audio interference.
3 Make sure the main light source – a window or light – is in front of you, lighting your face.
4 Losing Wifi or mobile connection will usually drop video calls, so make sure you stay in one place.
You can find more additional video tips here.
We all love the sun and by taking a few simple steps everyone can enjoy it to its fullest. Melanoma is a serious risk, but taking the proper steps to prevent the disease can have a huge impact.
Want to get more keep well tips from our Wello Nurse Practitioners?