Tue, May 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM
May is Skin Cancer Awareness month
Everyone should know that it can strike young people, adults and the elderly. The rate of melanoma – which is by far the most deadly type of skin cancer – has doubled since the 1980s, but that may be an indication of better detection rates and more awareness.
“Skin cancer can be a small event or a major event,” Dermatologist Dr. Josh Wharton told a group of cancer survivors at their monthly support group meeting.
The statistics on skin cancer are blistering:
“If caught early, these are very treatable,” Dr. Wharton said.
Unfortunately statistics for melanoma are even worse:
“Melanoma is really a wild card,” Dr. Wharton said. “It does not act like most cancers.”
Despite the scary facts surrounding skin cancer, Dr. Wharton said research is making strides all the time.
“I’m excited about what the future holds,” he said.
The most important thing, of course, is prevention, he emphasized.
“There is no safe way to tan,” he warned. “It all damages the skin.”
Sunburn has a cumulative effect, meaning that a lifetime of burning leads to cells being so damaged they cannot repair themselves.
Other smart ways to protect your skin include:
“Remember, if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade,” he said.
Dr. Wharton taught the ABCs of what to watch out for with melanoma:
Any of these should be reported to your doctor immediately.
Dr. Wharton opened Dermatology of North Alabama in Guntersville in 2010. Call (256)571-8770 for appointments.
Marshall Cancer Care Center’s LIFE group is open to all cancer survivors. It meets on the second Tuesday of each month at noon in the classroom of the Professional Center next door to the Marshall Cancer Care Center, just south of Cracker Barrel in Guntersville. Lunch is provided and there is no charge. A reservation is required, and can be made by calling (256)571-8000.