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Special care for special skin

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Four years ago, I had a small melanoma removed from my back.   Thank goodness it had not spread beyond the epidermis, so the surgery got it all.   Since then, though, I have to make regular visits to the dermatologist to be inspected for more bad spots.   Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers, so needless to say finding out that I had one was pretty scary.

I just went through one of my annual inspections.   Standing there buck nekkid in front of the doctor is no easy thing for me, but the alternative would be a lot worse.   I’d just like to take time today to ask all my readers to be vigilant.   Our beautiful multicolored skins might make it a little more difficult to spot the changes that could indicate the onset of skin cancer.

Once a month, stand in front of a mirror and look yourself over.   Enlist someone to take a good look at your back, since most of us can’t see the whole expanse of it clearly (my husband was the one who discovered the melanoma on mine).   Check the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.   Use a mirror to inspect your private parts (yes, you can get moles and melanomas there, too–years ago I had to have a mole removed that made sitting down rather uncomfortable for several days).

Do you have red or scaly or crusty places that don’t seem to ever go away?   Get them checked.   Most times it’s just a matter of irritation or dry skin, but it could be an indication of skin cancer.   For melanomas, use the mnemonic ABCD.

  • A: Appearance, or Asymmetry.   One side looks different from the other.
  • B: Border.   The shape of the spot is irregular and sometimes the borders are not distinct.
  • C: Color.   The color is uneven or blotchy.
  • D:   Diameter.   If it’s bigger than a pencil eraser it needs to be checked out.

Now, a mole could have one or more of those signs and still not be cancerous (that was the case with the mole on my rear end) but why take chances?

I’d like to keep all my readers as long as possible and I want to be here to keep typing likewise.   Take time today to be extra careful with your beautifully decorated skin, OK? Here is a short guide from the American Melanoma Foundation to show you how they recommend looking at your skin.

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