Dr. Leming - Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer - Melanoma

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that usually occurs in adults, but may occasionally be found in children.  It most often appears on fair-skinned men and women, but people with other skin types can be affected. In men, melanoma most often appears on the chest or back. In women, the arms and legs are more common sites. It can also develop on the face, neck, or other areas. Although the incidence of melanoma is lower than other types of skin cancer, it has the highest death rate and is responsible for a majority of all deaths from skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

Ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation from the sun causes premature aging, suppresses the body’s immune system and increases the risk for skin cancer. UVA and UVB rays are responsible for three common forms of skin cancer:

-    Basal cell carcinoma: This type of skin cancer appears as lesions that look like red patches, open sores or scars. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 80 percent of all skin cancers.

-    Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the second most common form, representing about 20 percent of all skin cancers. It often appearing as a sore, red patch or wart. Both basal and squamous cell skin cancer are linked to sun exposure, and are highly treatable when detected early.

-    Melanoma: Although melanoma represents a small percentage of skin cancers, it’s the most deadly since it can spread to other organs. These growths vary greatly in appearance and can sometimes resemble normal moles.  Melanoma is closely tied to sun damage (sunburns) early in life, and tanning bed use.


Warning Signs

Knowing the ABCDEs of skin cancer will help you recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease in its early stages when it’s most treatable. Examine your skin once per month for the following:

-   Asymmetry– Normal moles or freckles look symmetrical on the top and bottom, and from side to side.

-   Border– The borders of your moles should be smooth and free of notched, jagged, or blurred borders.

-    Color– Each individual mole should have a consistent light or brown color throughout. Black, blue or red moles may also indicate a problem.

-    Diameter– Moles should be smaller than 6 mm, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.

-    Elevation– The surface of your moles should be even with the surrounding surface of your skin.

If you notice any irregularities, make an appointment with your primary care physician who can do a more thorough screening and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary.

Be Safe in the Sun

The good news is most skin cancers can be avoided by practicing sun-safe behaviors. These include:

·         Avoiding tanning beds. If you must have a tan, get it from a bronzer or lotion.

·         Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.

·         Always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Apply about two tablespoons to your entire body 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and again after activities like swimming or other sports.

·         Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, long sleeves, long pants and wide brimmed hats whenever you can.

·         Being aware of your own skin. Perform monthly skin exams and yearly skin cancer screenings.



Skin Cancer Care at The Christ Hospital

The Christ Hospital Cancer Center knows that treating cancer involves much more than treating a tumor itself. It involves caring for the whole person – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Providing patients with the most precise treatment options and technologies, with the most skilled physicians, provides reassurance, peace of mind and comfort to patients and their loved ones.


The Christ Hospital offers world-renowned specialists and comprehensive services for diagnosing and treating skin cancers. Dedicated to the health of the whole person, including research, early detection, prevention, education and treatment of cancer, The Christ Hospital Cancer Center offers a full range of the most advanced cancer services available – including a vast network of primary care and specialist physicians, comprehensive outpatient services, a 30-bed dedicated inpatient medical oncology unit and more. The Christ Hospital is accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) , an agency that evaluates quality and outcome data for cancer centers across the nation, and is a member of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), the leading education and advocacy organization of the cancer team. 


For information about clinical trials available through The Christ Hospital Cancer Center, click here: http://www.thechristhospital.com/?id=1070&sid=1 .


For more information about The Christ Hospital’s cancer care services, visit www.TheChristHospital.com/cancer .

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