Pathways SU24 Digital Magazine

TO YOUR HEALTH Melanoma Screening

BY JANINE SHORE As the summer season approaches and we eagerly anticipate out - door adventures, it’s essential to prioritize our skin’s health amidst the sunshine and warmth. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with millions of new cases diagnosed each year. It can occur in people of all ages, although certain groups are at a higher risk of developing the disease, particularly older men. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Though less com - mon than other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, it presents a significant threat due to its po - tential to spread throughout the body. Originating in melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, melanoma often appears as an abnormal mole or spot on the skin. Sun-exposed regions like the face, neck, arms, back, and legs are the most common sites, but it can develop in areas not typically exposed to sunlight, such as the palms, soles, and under nails. Raising awareness about melanoma underscores the importance of educating individuals about its risks, the significance of early detec - tion, and preventive measures to mitigate its development and cure the disease. With the intensity of the sun peaking during the summer months, fostering a culture of sun safety and regular skin examina- tions is paramount. The Role and Benefits of Routine Screening Serial screening for skin cancer plays a pivotal role in detecting melanoma at its earliest stages. It is characterized by regular head- to-toe visual skin examinations every 6-12 months, conducted best by board certified dermatologists who will look for any signs of skin can - cer or abnormal growths. Unlike sporadic self-checks, serial screening offers a comprehensive assessment of the skin’s condition, enabling healthcare professionals to identify suspicious lesions or moles indic- ative of melanoma or other skin abnormalities. Covered by most insurance providers, these screenings provide nu- merous benefits: Early Detection: Serial screening empowers dermatologists to identify melanoma in its most treatable stages, potentially preventing the disease from advancing to life-threatening levels. Increased Accuracy: Dermatologists possess specialized training and expertise in discerning subtle changes in the skin indicative of melanoma. Their keen observation skills and diagnostic tools enhance the accuracy of melanoma detection, or other harmful skin conditions, minimizing the risk of missed diagnoses. Personalized Care: Serial screening allows for tailored care based on individual risk factors, skin type, and medical history. Dermatolo - gists can devise personalized surveillance plans and recommend pre - ventive measures tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Peace of Mind: Regular screenings offer patients reassurance, knowing their skin health is actively monitored by healthcare profes- sionals. This proactive approach empowers individuals to take charge of their well-being, making informed decisions regarding sun protec- tion and lifestyle choices. What if you do find something suspicious, or notice a change in your skin? If during a self-examination you notice anything that looks concerning, such as an unusual growth, or a mole that is asymmetri- cal, has irregular borders, changes in color or size, or is evolving in any way, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. In addition, if you have a history of extensive past sun exposure, or significant sun - burns, you should seriously consider routine examinations. Contact a dermatologist for a full evaluation and possible biopsy of the question-

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PATHWAYS—Summer 24—25

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