Did You Have a Mole Check Last Year?

December 26,2018

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined. Fortunately, advanced treatments and patient self-awareness have greatly reduced the risk of dying from skin cancer. In fact, doctors today are expertly trained in identifying suspect moles and skin blemishes at the earliest stages to recommend proactive medical interventions. Even the deadliest form of skin cancer (melanoma) has an estimated five-year survival rate around 99 percent when detected early.

Unfortunately, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed annually has increased by 53% over the past decade. Today, one person dies of melanoma every hour. Many medical researchers blame the increase in deadly melanoma on the growth in the number of "Sun Worshipers" over the last half century. A burn-in-the-sun mindset has also led to tanning booths. Since ultraviolet radiation is a proven human carcinogen, these provide an unnecessary source for UV skin damage. On average, a person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns during their lifetime.

Although it is the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma is not the most common type. An estimated 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma (approximately 3,000 deaths) are diagnosed each year in the U.S. This is followed by more than a million cases of squamous cell carcinoma (approximately 15,000 deaths). Nonetheless, the regular use of an SPF 15 (or higher) sunscreen or sunblocker will significantly reduce the risk of sun-damaged skin as well as all forms of skin cancer.

If you are like most patients, you may feel that you lack the skills to check for abnormalities, as you feel uncertain about what to look for. This is understandable and is why you should contact PrimeMED to schedule an annual wellness exam with a board-certified physician at a location near you. The earlier that any form of skin cancer is discovered, the better the treatment options. In addition, our physician can show you how to check your skin routinely, so you know when it is time to visit a dermatologist. Moreover, if a mole or blemish is itching, bleeding, growing or changing in any abnormal way, it should be examined by a doctor.