Credit to “Bottom Line” and Dr. Rigel for this very timely and helpful information:
Melanoma — it’s scary but treatable, if caught before it spreads. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths but is 99% curable in the early stages.
Darrell S. Rigel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center, and a colleague examined factors common among 600 people to identify which were most often associated with melanoma.
1. A history of blistering sunburns as a teenager.
2. Red or blonde hair.
3. Marked (meaning the number totaled more than 100) freckling of the upper back, which indicates excessive sun exposure along with a person’s susceptibility to the sun, due to the fact that they are less likely to form a protective tan.
4. A family history of melanoma.
5. A history of Actinic Keratoses (AKs), which are lesions on the skin considered to be precursors to skin cancer.
6. Outdoor summer jobs for three or more years as a teenager (where he/she was likely to have had excessive sun exposure).
ARE YOU AT RISK?
Each of these factors separately predicts an increased lifetime risk of melanoma, regardless of the others, Dr. Rigel said. While the average American has a 1.5% lifetime risk of developing melanoma, having just one of these six factors increased lifetime risk to 3% to 5%… two or more boosted risk five to tenfold… and a person with three or more factors has a 10 to 20 times increased lifetime risk of developing melanoma.
Dr. Rigel urges even more caution and screenings if you “have three to four of these factors, and especially if something looks suspicious on your skin.”
In addition to Dr. Rigel’s study, there are other risk factors, behaviors and traits that are associated with melanoma.
• For people with a prior history of breast cancer, melanoma risk is two to three times higher.
• Women with a prior history of thyroid cancer are at double the risk of developing melanoma.
• A higher incidence of melanoma is linked to higher socioeconomic class.
• Airline flight personnel have a higher rate of melanoma, due to cosmic radiation and solar flares.
• Male drivers have a higher incidence of skin cancers on the left side of the body compared with the right side of the body.
• Taller men were found to have a higher incidence of melanoma than shorter men, with men in the top quartile of height twice as likely to develop melanoma as men in the bottom quartile of height.
• People with a prior history of dysplastic nevi (non-cancerous moles) and a family history of melanoma have a 50% greater risk of developing melanoma.
• Use of tanning beds is a major risk factor for melanoma. ***
“Melanoma is a clear-cut case in which early detection is key… if you catch it early, you can cure it,” said Dr. Rigel. “Once it’s advanced, nothing works.”
Please do the math ~ if you have any of these risk factors please
modify your behavior ~ use sunscreen more aggressively, wear a hat,
sunglasses and protective clothing when in the sun and be very
vigilant about seeing the dermatologist for annual skin cancer
Mind your ABC and D’s