The aim of Melanoma Monday is to raise awareness about melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer in which cells within moles on the skin becoming malignant (cancerous) and can spread rapidly to other areas of the body if left untreated.
Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities.
Melanomas can also develop in other areas of the body such as the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth. Whilst melanoma is thought to be a less common form of skin cancer, in recent years the incidence of melanoma seems to be increasing.
Melanoma is more common in people with white, fair skin and those who have experienced high levels of UV exposure. Sun burns, often experienced during childhood and the use of sun beds are two risk factors associated with melanoma.
Melanoma Monday aims to encourage people to examine their skin regularly and seek medical assistance if there are recognized signs of a malignant mole. Early detection and treatment is associated with a much higher survival rate.
By educating as many as possible about melanoma and encouraging early detection, Melanoma Monday have helped saved lives.
Melanoma Warning Signs: ABCDE
- A - Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical? If you imagine a line drawn across the center of the mole, if the two halves do not match then they are considered asymmetrical. If you have an asymmetrical mole seek medical assistance.
- B - Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven? If so, please seek medical advice.
- C - Color: is the mole one uniform color? If there are several colors or shades of a color within a mole this could be a warning sign. Seek medical assistance.
- D - Diameter: how big is the mole? Melanomas often have a diameter of 6mm (1/4inch) or more (diameter is the length across the mole).
- E - Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color? Have you noticed any other changes such as bleeding, itching or puss coming from the mole? These may be signs of a malignant mole so seek medical assistance.
Early Detection Is Crucial For Treatment Success
As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. However, unlike most cancers, melanoma does normally not respond well to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or medication.
When melanoma is at a later stage and has metastasized (spreading to other parts of the body), treatment options are limited and palliative care is the main course of action.
Drug treatments for melanoma, when successful, do not provide a cure. They may extend life for a time measured in months not years. There will always be exceptions and some people with metastatic (stage 4) melanoma will live for many years after diagnosis.
However, the prognosis for advanced melanoma is normally not good hence early detection is critical for success.
My message for a lifetime will always be to encourange prevention by:
- Seeking the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
Since my diagnosis, I encourage everybody I can to get naked, self check and be evaluated even for baseline purposes. It’s not always comfortable for some to shed their clothing, but it’s important for good reason, to be aware, stay aware and be evaluated when necessary.
I am proud to have been selected as the 2018 Honorary Survivor for Ann’s Hope Foundation for Melanoma Cancer. Join us for the 14th Annual Block Melanoma Run, Walk and TEAM CATHY Kids Fun Run on May 20th, 2018 at the Milwaukee County Zoo.Register today for the 5k Run, 3k Walk and TEAM CATHY Kids Fun Run which includes FREE Zoo Admission and Parking for the day and a long sleeve SPF 40 Performance shirt. Staff from Froedtert/ MCW will be on hand conducting skin spot checks as well! If you’d like to join or donate to my team, my teams name is “Sunshine Daydream”.
For more information, to register, volunteer or donate, click here:
I recently photographed a series of fine art portraiture with the focus on the human body, highlighting the skin. Slideshow is attached and will hopefully motivate you to get naked, check yourself and love the skin you're in…enjoy! Not only am I hyper-aware of my own skin and markings, but I’m aware of those in my family as well. As a mother, it’s also of utmost importance for me to teach my children about doing self checks on their own skin, to be aware of markings, and what to do if something appears or seems to be irregular or changing.
Don’t forget to check your self and those you love. After, drop me a “selfie” in the comments with a thumbs up.
To read my original blogpost related to my diagnosis, please click here: