May is Melanoma Awareness Month. It is also the month of Proms, which means glamour, hair, nails, dresses, shoes and handbags. When in heavens name did tanned skin become part of the beauty ensemble??
To take a step back, I recently had a dear friend get diagnosed with malignant Melanoma. Within two weeks, he was gone. While this is crazy, it is too terribly true. As a result, his daughters, his widow and his dear friends, of whom I am proud to call myself, are committed to helping others avoid his horrid fate. I miss him lots. This blog is dedicated to Marky!
A conversation that was overheard recently at a spa (I do get pedicures on a vibrating chair in a room with pleasant therapeutic aromas) was a teen talking on a phone to a friend about scheduling her tan time at a local salon to prepare for prom. Well ladies: Sun tanning salons presents a risk of skin cancer, along with natural sun tanning.
Let’s talk some facts: The statistics about this most dangerous form of skin cancer are alarming. It is the eighth most common cancer in the US and its incidence is increasing faster than any other cancer over the past 20 years. It is now the most common cancer in young adults aged 25-29. Yet, this deadliest form of skin cancers is nearly 100% curable when caught early.
While virtually anyone can become a victim of melanoma, some are at greater risk than others. If any of the following describe you, it is even more imperative to proactively protect your skin. These include: anyone exposed to large amounts of sunlight or tanning beds; a personal or family history of melanoma; fair complexions or red hair and anyone with a history of moles/large pigmented blemishes.
While my expertise is women’s health and not dermatology, I do know enough about Melanoma to provide tips on what we might do to manage the risks for melanoma that everyone can do: First, protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun. Cover your skin and/or wear a sunscreen with at least sun protection factor of 30 and whose label says it provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Second, wear a hat, preferably one with a visor or rim that protects your face, as well as your head. Third, check yourself regularly for changes in moles or anything else that looks suspicious. Don’t overlook your scalp—ask your stylist or barber to check it whenever you have a hair appointment. And, fourth, see a medical professional annually for a full body scan or more frequently if you have an unusual growth or change in a mole or growth.
There is a great article on beinggirl.com on practicing safe sun. Check it out as, it could save your life or someone you know and love – literally.
Back to the prom: for those that are getting ready for the big dance or helping their child prepare. Please, please, please focus on the beauty of jewels, the matching tux, after prom activities and the big DATE, not on the need to tan the skin. Have fun and I am looking forward to hearing prom stories!