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By Varun Gujral
April 03, 2014
Category: Melanoma

We've all had that moment when we see a new little brown spot on our skin.  "What is that?” we ask.  In the back of your mind, you're wondering, "is that cancer? Do I need to go to the doctor?"  The answer to these questions is simple and difficult. 

As summer approaches, outdoor activity explodes.  This is a great thing but also brings about increased sun exposure.  A tan is something that has a high value to many and laying out in the sun is both relaxing and gives you a beautiful glow.  But, beware of melanoma, the most dangerous of skin cancers

Thousands of people are diagnosed with melanoma every year.  A melanoma is a growth of the cells in your skin that produce the melanin pigment.  These cells are called melanocytes and they give your skin the color that you enjoy.  When exposed to rays of the sun they can become damaged and grow out of control.  Melanomas are so dangerous because when they start to grow out of control, they spread very quickly and can become invasive without proper removal.

So how do you know if that spot is cancer?  The first warning sign is new growth.  If you notice something that wasn't there previously then it means that something new is growing there.  If it is getting larger then it is worrisome and you should head to the doc ASAP.  If you can't remember if it’s new or how big it is then use the tried and true ABCDE evaluation method.  If the spot has two or more of the qualities below then it needs to be checked by a professional.

A – asymmetry: if it has an irregular shape                                                                                                                          

B – borders: irregular, variable, unsmooth, or jagged borders

C – color: the color is variable and changes throughout the lesion

D – diameter: greater than 6mm in diameter

E – enlarging or evolving: changing over time

Because melanoma can spread rapidly it is important to check your body often.  The longer a tumor has to grow the more dangerous it becomes.  A month can make the difference between life and death.

Lastly, I must urge you to pay attention to your feet.  Cancers commonly develop on your feet because for some reason people often forget to put sunscreen on their feet.  This summer, don't be afraid to smear on the sunscreen and smear it often.  Your skin will thank you.

If you notice any lesions on your feet then please bring them to the attention of your local podiatrist.  Don't wait; make an appointment with your local podiatrist at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Care in Edison and Monroe NJ today.

 

By Varun Gujral

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