The Fairest Kids of All…Need to Do More to Protect Their Skin from Melanoma

Think that it is enough to apply sunscreen for your family beach days, kids soccer games or just doing yard work on the weekend? Think again. While it was previously thought that sunscreen was the key to keeping your skin and children safe from the sun’s powerful rays, it is now clear that a more comprehensive approach to sun safety must be taken and taught to your kids.
In May of 2018, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) actually changed their recommendations on when to teach your kids sun safety. The previous suggestion was to begin teaching children about sun safety at age 10. Now, due to the fact that children who get sunburns early in life are more likely to develop melanoma, coupled with the understanding that kids who learn sun
safety early are more apt to stick with it into adulthood, it is recommended that beginning at six months of age parents should be teaching their children about how to protect their skin from the sun.
In order to give your children the tools they need to keep their skin safe, just teaching them to apply sunscreen is no longer enough.  Recently, the National Cancer Institute analyzed over 28,500 responses from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey and, surprisingly, Kasey Morris, who led the study, commented that, “Regular sunscreen use, in the absence of other protective behaviors, was associated with the highest likelihood of sunburn.”
In their paper on the study, they went on to say, “Although participants who did not use sunscreen, seek shade, or wear protective clothing had a higher probability of sunburn (54.8%), the group with highest likelihood of sunburn consisted of those who used only sunscreen (62.4%). The group with the lowest probability of sunburn did not report using sunscreen but reported engaging in the other 3 protective behaviors (24.3%).”
This does not mean that you and your family should shift
from applying sunscreen to just wearing long sleeves and trying to
keep out of the sun. It is crucial to cover all of your bases.
The USPSTF makes the following recommendations for sun
protection of children:
• Wearing protective clothing, including hats
• Receiving proper advice on how to apply broad-spectrum
sunscreen, with a SPF of 15 or more
• Avoiding indoor UV tanning, and tanning beds
• Avoiding sun exposure in the middle of the day, between 10am and
4pm, when the rays are strongest
• Keep your family sun safe this summer!
 
Check out www.skincheck.org for comprehensive information on early self-detection and prevention of melanoma.
 
References
fair-skinned-study-finds-13180
recommendations-extended-young-children-under-10-12752
people-need-more-than-sunscreen-to-avoid-sunburn-
idUSKBN1K02RB
US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling to
Prevent Skin CancerUS Preventive Services Task Force
Recommendation Statement.JAMA. 2018;319(11):1134–1142.
doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1623

Non-Melanoma Black Skin Growths

It is very important to have any suspicious new and pre-existing moles or skin growths checked out by a dermatologist in a timely fashion. However, it’s also important to understand that suspicious-appearing growth often turn out to be either benign, or a lesser form of skin cancer, than the potentially lethal melanoma.

This blog post focuses on 5 different forms of black skin growths that are not melanoma.

Seborrheic Keratosis

While its name may sound frightening, these waxy-textured skin growths are common in people who are middle-aged or older. They most often appear on the head and neck, but they can develop in any are except the palms and soles of the feet.

Seborrheic Keratosis

Blue Nevi

Nevi is just the medical term for the common mole. These most-often benign, isolated moles range from smooth to slightly elevated. They usually develop on the head, neck, back, palms and soles.

Blue Nevi

Black Skin Tags

Skin tags are those annoying (yet perfectly harmless) soft, mushroom-shaped protuberances that are often found on the neck or armpits. Nearly all of them will match your skin’s hue; but some change to black, and a few are black from the very start of development.

If a skin tag turns black, it’s due to a lack of oxygen and it will usually fall off within a week or two. While there are many ways to successfully deal with skin tags, some people have them removed with liquid nitrogen or tie them off with a strand of thread.

                                                    Black Skin Tag

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN)

DPN is another quite common condition. It consists of multiple small, benign skin lesions visible on the face that begin most often in puberty, and predominantly affect dark skin-toned individuals.

                                                            DPN

Pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma (PBCC)

As with Seborrheic Keratosis, Basal Cell Carcinoma sounds much worse than it actually is. It rarely, if ever, metastasizes (spreads to other areas of the body). PBCC can affect both light and dark-skinned individuals.

                                                           PBCC

Please remember (and also let others know) that skin conditions, whether cancerous or not, do not discriminate; they can impact anyone of any skin color. Unfortunately for skin cancer, and positively for us, public education combined with the efforts of medical science will ultimately be its downfall.

The clock is ticking on melanoma; it’s only a matter of time.

*Additional source article credits: American Academy of Dermatology, DermNetNZ, NCBI.gov

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

No Clean Pill of Health: A Skin Cancer Scam

In the 19th century, they were called “Snake-Oil Salesmen”; men who traveled from town-to-town pitching useless beverages that they touted as the cure for whatever ails you. They still exist today, except they’re now called “scammers”. And in our contemporary times, they have a wide variety of much more effective tools at their disposal.

Times and technology may have changed; but the practice of morally-divested people trying to scam the public for personal profit has not. Sometimes, despicably, they’re willing to endanger the health of others for money.

Accept No Substitutes

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has blown the whistle on multiple companies that sell tablets with the promise of protecting those who use them from the effects (including skin cancer and the potentially lethal melanoma) of the sun’s harmful UV rays. The FDA has, thankfully and publicly, lowered the boom on the following companies because their pills offer as much skin protection as eating a Tic Tac would. In other words, they offer none.

“-Advanced Skin Brightening Formula – made by GliSODin Skin Nutrients, of Toronto, Ontario

-Sunsafe Rx – made by Napa Valley Bioscience, of Santa Monica, CA

-Solaricare – made by Pharmacy Direct, Inc., of Dover, DE

-Sunergetic – made by Sunergized LLC, of Woodbury, NY”*

Per the cited source article, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made his point clearly and concisely with this statement: “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen.” And if there ever is, the FDA will officially let us all know.

Blanket of Insecurity

It’s human nature to believe that, if a product is widely available for sale, it must’ve been approved by some federal agency. But if that were true, you’d never see an (involuntarily) bald man anywhere.

If a person buys a fake watch on a city street, the most it costs him or her is some money lost with a free lesson thrown in. However, to trust your health to a useless medication can cost you your life.

Most people are inherently good, and as such can’t fathom that others might try to profit off risking their health. Unfortunately, those type of people, and companies, are out there. The good news is that today’s tech can work for us, too. Before entrusting your skin’s health (or any other area) to a seemingly magic bean, do some quick online research. Whatever the product, there are sure to be numerous reviews, opinions and/or facts posted about it.

If you’re tanning, either naturally like this person below, artificially (tanning beds), or even out in the sun at all, your best defense is properly applied (and frequently re-applied) sunscreen.

 

 

 

 

Spending a few minutes to verify health claims is the best investment you can possibly make.

*Source article and photo credit: American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org)

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Can UV Curing of Fingernail Gels Cause Melanoma?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Fortunately, efforts to increase public education on the disease by medical science, foundations and affected citizens (who today are all helped greatly by the power of social media) continue to raise awareness levels. However, there is still a long way to go; including myths to dispel and key areas of skin cancer education to focus on.

A Show of Hands

The primary source of harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays is the sun; but it’s not the only one as tanning beds are equally dangerous. More recently, another threat to our skin’s health has emerged. Many women have transitioned over from using traditional nail polish to gel polish. Gel polish is more resilient, while also offering a more appealing look than its predecessor can.

The health issue isn’t with the polish itself, but rather the method employed to cure (dry, set in place) it. Both the conventional and LED lamps most manicurists use to cure gel polish project a powerful blast of UVA radiation onto the nails and fingers. These rays can, have and will continue to cause melanoma both under nails and on the skin of the fingers that surrounds them.

The Power of Popularity

Often, a disease we’re aware of, but has not yet impacted us in some personal way, will simply exist on the outskirts of our consciousness. And it remains there until it either does personally affect us, or a celebrity brings it to our national attention.

The current Miss Illinois is 20-year old Karolina Jasko, who will be representing that state in the upcoming Miss USA Pageant. Jasko is selflessly using her public platform to make others aware of her plight. At 18, her doctor informed her that she had developed melanoma under one of her fingernails.

Karolina Jasko

 

 

 

 

Fingernail melanoma

She wants to make it known to as many people as she can reach that the curing process is probably to blame for her skin cancer, stating, “The doctor said I most likely got it from getting my nails done from the nail salon from getting acrylics from the light.”

Hers is an important message. Because while all melanoma education and awareness advocates have the same goal of educating the public, celebrity voices always resonate louder. Jasko’s efforts are commendable.

 

Covering Up

No matter how much new information on the dangers of any vice (tanning, smoking, etc.) are released publicly, there will always be people willing to take the associated risks. But there are ways to provide yourself with some protection if you opt to continue the unsafe practice of gel curing.

Use sunscreen or protective gloves (with open ends for nails) to at least protect the skin on the fingers from UV exposure during the curing process.

Additional source articles: KTVU.com, KDVR.com, ABCActionNews.com, ScarySymtoms.com

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Is a Daily Aspirin Regimen a New Melanoma Risk for Men?

Aspirin, a derivative of tree bark, has in one form or another been used to reduce pain in people for millennia. More recently, medical science has learned of its ability to help prevent heart attacks and ward off some cancers. However, new research has revealed an awful side-effect for men who take aspirin on a regular basis.

While melanoma doesn’t discriminate based on gender, aspirin evidently does. A study referenced within the Oncology Nurse Advisor article cited below indicates that a consistent use of aspirin potentially doubles the odds of developing melanoma in the men who do so. The research also showed that the practice had no perceivable impact on women. While there are theories as to why that might be, nothing has yet been proven.

To obtain this information, “researchers accessed the Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse to evaluate the health outcomes of nearly 200,000 patients from metropolitan Chicago and the surrounding areas. Eligible patients were between the ages of 18 and 89, had no previous history of melanoma, and had follow-up data of at least 5 years after continuous once-daily aspirin use for 1 year or more. Of the study participants chronically exposed to aspirin, 26 (2.2%) of 1187 developed melanoma. Contrarily, of the nearly 194,000 patients in the study who did not take aspirin, only 1675 (0.86%) developed melanoma.”

A Slippery Slope

Although this new data may be alarming, if you’ve been advised to consume aspirin regularly, please continue to do so. If you have concerns, instead of stopping the medication you should discuss them directly with your dermatologist and doctor. Only a trained medical professional is qualified to determine the best course of action for his or her patient.

Regardless of what medication you’ve been prescribed (if any), it’s still vital to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays and to perform monthly skin self-examinations.

Additional source articles: OncologyNurseAdvisor.com, CNN.com, ScienceDaily.com, Allure.com

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Four Ways to Save Lives from Melanoma

There is no ineffective way to relay (accurate) information about melanoma, as discussing it with even one other person has the potential to save a life. But today’s world is a much different place than it was only a few years ago.

Now, several highly-effective ways exist with which to reach out and educate countess people instantaneously. This blog post focuses on four specific methods to get the message on melanoma out to a wide audience.

Virtual Reality

Virtual community service volunteer opportunities exist in abundance. Both teens and adults alike can provide a great service to their communities from anywhere, at any time, with nothing more than access to a computer and Microsoft Excel. All it takes is a few hours a week. To see a current list of available opportunities, simply click on this link to our VolunteerMatch.org page.

The Power of Social Media

Nothing has ever shrunk the world like social media. What once took days, weeks or even months to communicate can now reach its intended recipient(s) in mere seconds- 24/7/365. It gives health-awareness organizations an immensely powerful tool we’ve never had before.

We encourage you to view, share and refer your contacts to SkinCheck.org, a website with the most comprehensive, user-friendly information on early self-detection and prevention of melanoma ever created. You have the ability to save untold lives with the simple click of a button.

See Spot Save

Our “See Spot” document is a wealth of skin cancer information presented in an easy-to-read format on just one page. It includes relevant photos and is applicable to teens and adults. You can access it by clicking here, then share the link with family and friends through your email and social media accounts.

Our “See Spot” page:

Parenthood

If you’re a parent, ask your middle and high school children whether they’ve received our lessons on melanoma. Teachers have confirmed to us that many students have saved their own lives by finding early melanomas, along with other skin cancers, due to learning through our lessons. They’ve also saved the lives of friends and family members simply by sharing the “See Spot” document above with them. The lessons have even saved the lives of health educators themselves.

If your child hasn’t received one of our lessons in class, please contact his or her principal and/or health teacher, and request that it be presented.

Don’t take no for an answer!

Words have tremendous power. And if you’re successful, we will both be left with the satisfaction of knowing that your conversation or email may have saved countless lives.

Not too shabby of a return on our mutual investments.

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Melanoma is the worst form of skin cancer, but skin cancer’s most common form is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). Each year, there are more new cases of BCC diagnosed than of all other cancers combined. Unlike advanced melanoma, this disease is rarely fatal. However, it can cause extensive skin damage and should be taken seriously.

Appearance Matters

BCC is similar to an iceberg, in that the majority of it often resides below the surface. But what is visible is not pretty, neither literally or figuratively. If left untreated, BCC may lead to surgery that results in permanent disfigurement.

Warning: Signals Ahead

Fortunately for us, in general skin cancer has an Achilles heel that many other diseases don’t have. It (usually) announces its arrival visually while there’s still time to do something about it.

Regarding BCC, be wary of waxy, red, pink, or flesh-colored nodules (sometimes cratered) or flat growths that bleed, itch and/or don’t heal. If any of these are discovered during one of your monthly skin self-exams, visit a dermatologist as soon as possible.

These are 2 examples of BCC:

 

 

 

 

The Usual Suspect

As with the majority of skin-related damage and cancers, the sun and its UV (ultraviolet) rays are mostly to blame for BCC. (Tanning beds are another significant source of skin cancer). The nose is the most sun-exposed area of the face and is among the most common sites of BCC.

BCC on the nose:

 

 

 

 

People with light complexions have a greater risk of developing BCC. But anyone of any skin-tone should take protective measures against UV rays. Although BCC can occur at any age, it’s most common in people who are over 40. It’s also more prevalent in those who live in sunny or high-altitude regions. Though it is important to keep in mind that UV ray-related skin damage occurs in every climate, and during all types of weather.

The Correct Treatment

Once BCC is diagnosed, there are multiple treatment options available. A dermatologist will choose the one best-suited to help a given patient. Shave biopsy is common. And if BCC has developed in a cosmetically-sensitive area, such as the face, Moh’s microsurgery is often employed.

The goal of this procedure is to remove as much of the BCC as possible while saving the healthy tissue around it. Layers of skin are removed one at a time and examined under a microscope until all the cancer is gone. This reduces the chance of needing future treatments or surgery.

Playing it Safe

The best way to avoid BCC is by practicing the same techniques you already use to protect yourself against other skin cancers and melanoma. These include wearing (and frequently re-applying) sunscreen while outdoors or driving, and wearing long sleeves, pants and broad-brimmed hats. Whenever possible, try to avoid being outdoors during the sun’s peak hours between 10a.m. and 4p.m.

*Additional source articles: DermNetNZ.org

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Dog-gone Wow! Canines Can Smell Skin Cancer, Melanoma

It has often been said that dogs are Man’s Best Friend. But the truth is that, within the world of medicine, they’re everyone’s best friend.

The Sweet Smell of Success

There have been, and continue to be, many research studies and documented accounts on dogs who were/are able to smell skin cancer and melanoma on their owners and cancer patients.

And with their owners they’ll not only sniff it out, they’ll then continually pester them until they go and have it checked out by a dermatologist. Not a bad return on some affectionate petting and a few Scooby Snacks.

This ability, known medically as “canine olfactory detection” can also be positively manipulated by training dogs to detect other cancers such as of the lung, breast and prostate, to name just a few. It truly is amazing that, no matter how fast the technical achievements of medical science improve and evolve, Mother Nature still reigns supreme.

Scents and Scents-ability

Dogs possess over 200 million more smell-receptor cells than that of their human counterparts. This includes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as dimethydisulfide and isoamyl alcohol.

Those two VOCs are released from melanomas at all stages and have been verified by high-sensitivity instruments. As a result, this incredible ability that is impossible for humans to perform, is routine for canines.

Meet Claire (a British animal behavioral psychologist) and Daisy, the pet dog who saved her life. (Photo credit: DailyMail.com)

Odor Eaters

Dogs can detect cancer by sniffing urine, breath, and skin among other items. A patient doesn’t even have to be present. He or she need only provide a medical sample that can later be presented to a trained dog for olfactory inspection.

It’s Only Common Scents

Of course, it’s both impractical and expensive to train thousands of dogs to sniff out various illnesses, particularly within hospital/medical office settings. However, they are integral in helping medical science continue to progress on the creation of artificial scent-receptors that will have capabilities similar to those of their canine counterparts.

It makes sense, really. We’ve had CAT scans for years; it’s about time dog scans had their turn.

Reality Bites

While this is all excellent news, it’s important to keep in mind that many people don’t own dogs. And it’s unwise for those who do to now think, “Rover hasn’t focused his attention on any particular area recently, so I must be cancer-free.”

It is vital to take a quick 10 minutes each month to continue to performing your skin self-exams. They’re far more reliable at detecting melanoma than depending on Fido to be your primary oncological diagnostician.

*Additional source articles: DogsNaturallyMagazine.com, SiriusDog.com, ScientificAmerican, Daily Mail (United Kingdom), NCBI

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Atypical Moles vs. Melanoma

In one of our previous, similar posts, ‘Normal Moles vs. Atypical Moles’, we discussed that titular subject. In today’s post, our focus will be on comparing atypical moles with melanoma.

What are Atypical Moles?

Many people know that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. But what are atypical moles? Are they cancerous?

Atypical moles (known in medical terms as dysplastic nevi) are similar to common moles in that melanoma usually does not develop in either. However, as we’ll expand on below, their presence is an indicator of an increased melanoma risk in general.

Atypical moles are usually larger than common moles, as well as differing in color (ranging from pink to dark-brown), shape (often irregular), and border with surrounding skin (often fuzzy).

While common moles are generally round or oval, atypicals may look more like a picture from a Rorschach inkblot test.

These 3 photos are different examples of atypical moles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn and Face the Change

David Bowie’s hit song also provides us with some excellent skin care advice. Atypical moles are rarely removed because the procedure isn’t necessary. Nor would excision reduce the risk of converting them to melanoma by very much. However…

If you notice any change in an atypical mole (or in any mole, for that matter) during one of your highly-recommend monthly skin self-exams, it’s important to have it checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible. That means any change, including in size, color, texture, shape, or height. Also, if it turns hard/lumpy, or begins bleeding, itching or oozing.

Just the FAQ’s, Ma’am (or Sir), Just the FAQ’s

Here are a few other things you should know about atypical moles:

  • The risk of melanoma increases 10-fold in people who have 5 or more atypical moles. Although it usually arises in clear skin rather than in an atypical mole. Atypical moles serve as markers for melanoma risk.
  • The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimates that 2-8% of the current U.S. population has atypical moles
  • No matter what an atypical mole looks like, judging it to be benign or malignant just on its’ appearance is an unreliable method of determining if melanoma is present. Even a trained dermatologist can’t make that determination just by viewing it. The only way to ensure a correct diagnosis is through a biopsy followed by a pathological examination
  • As with any other moles or skin cancers, atypicals can appear anywhere on the skin. This includes under the hair (scalp) and areas of skin that rarely, if ever, see the light of day
  • People with an abnormal number of moles, atypical or otherwise, should be even more careful about exposure to the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. Exposing moles to UV radiation, whether from the sun or tanning lamps, is dangerous.

Severely atypical moles, such as the one on the left, are even more challenging to distinguish from melanomas. The right image was a melanoma. As a result, dermatologists generally treat severely atypical moles the same way as melanomas.

*Additional source articles: Ncbi.gov, Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi and Risk of Melanoma

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Lives or More

It’s great hearing that we may be able to save some money by switching car insurance companies. But how much greater would it be to take those same 15 minutes and, with very little effort, save lives?

Hands Across America

Since 1999, the non-profit public charity Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) has worked tirelessly to educate teens about the dangers of skin cancers, as well as how to avoid them. Part of that education includes getting our free, highly-effective Melanoma Lessons into the hands of as many of our nation’s health teachers as possible.

The numbers speak for themselves. At last count, our lessons were being taught to students in over 1,700 middle and high schools across the United States. This skin cancer education has saved the lives of students, their teachers, and their friends and family. How? Because the teachers learn health information they weren’t aware of, and the students spread what they’ve learned to the people in their lives.

The goals of our mission are two-fold: teach teens how to look for and report any potential skin cancer, and teach them how they can protect themselves from getting it in the first place.

And you can help us to help them.

Volunteer to Make a Difference

We’d like to provide some information on each of the 3 ways you can help further the cause of melanoma education with us.

(Please note: Students who participate in any of the following opportunities will receive community service verification letters from the MEF for their project hours. Also, HOSA is an acronym for Health Occupation Students of America. To learn about these 3 volunteering opportunities in greater detail, please click here: VolunteerMatch).

Volunteer Opportunity 1

Share information about a one-page downloadable document on early self-detection of melanoma through social media.

(To read this highly-informative life-saving document, please click here: See Spot…Health Alert for Teens). Although originally targeted for teens it applies to adults as well.

This is available to volunteers of all ages.

Its Purpose:

Social media is an incredible tool in the battle against skin cancer that wasn’t even available at all a generation ago. The ability to reach a massive number of people over its various platforms allows melanoma education to get around the world in ways that, until recently, just weren’t available.

And few people have mastered its use more proficiently than the group in the exact age range the MEF’s Lessons were created for. That is a huge win-win for melanoma education not only in America, but all over the globe.

Volunteer Opportunity 2

Teaching other students at middle and high schools, that are not currently using the MEF Melanoma Lessons, about melanoma self-detection.

This opportunity is open to high school students and community college student volunteers.

Its Purpose:

To get students to educate other students in their schools about self-detection and risk-reduction of melanoma. This is done with minimal effort through showing those students a short 16-minute video, which we will provide to the volunteer.

Volunteer Opportunity 3

Obtaining public contact information on health teachers and HOSA faculty advisers from school websites.

This is available to people who:

  • Are 14 or older
  • Have a laptop, PC or tablet with either Microsoft XL or Mac Numbers installed

This can be done from anywhere at any time and involves no selling, phone calls or fundraising.

Its Purpose:

To allow the MEF to reach out to health teachers regarding our Melanoma Lessons. Every new educator who uses them equals more lives saved.

To visit our websites, please click:

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma