May is melanoma awareness month but in reality, every day should be. This deadly skin cancer can look like an irregular mole or spot but it can show up in your toe nails, between toes, folds of skin, bottom of feet, and more. Taking this month to remove nail polish and really check head to toe can save your life.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer and although baby boomers are showing skin damage and many types of skin cancers, it's not age discriminatory. I had my first basal cut out at the age of 27 and I know others who had melanoma in their early 20's.
The sun is the most common cause and baby boomers bathed with their Coppertone, Sea 'N Ski and even Crisco to get that golden tan. The later generations started going in the tanning booths thinking they were safe but in reality, it escalated the chances of melanoma and other types of skin cancers.
I've have four melanoma surgeries since 2004 with three being in 2016. All were different in looks and stages and so far I'm considered 95% cured since I caught them early. One looked like a small atypical mole, one like a freckle but was growing, one like black mole and one so tiny on my back the doctor almost thought was just a mole but because it wasn't there before she removed it to be safe. That one was stage II and I had to see an oncologist at OHSU.
I've had over 40 basal cell removed from scraping, large incisions requiring several stitches, bios that came clean catching early and some growing back over the scars. I've had Moh's surgery on my face for a pearl looking basal, (they don't all look like a pink sore), and squamous which too is more dangerous especially on the head where mine was. My arms, legs and private areas sport scars as well.
Those in their 50's are more apt to grow squamous on the neck, face and scalp.
I'm high risk and have to be seen every two months. Since my last visit removing stitches, I have new growths. I'll be doing the naked photo mapping and believe me, this body doesn't do naked but that's how serious it is to prevent dying from skin cancer.
Wear SPF 15 or higher. I recommend higher of at least 30. I love Aveeno and Bull Frog. When I wear makeup I make sure it has SPF as well. Many don't realize putting it on once isn't enough. Reapply every two hours and after you swim or work out. Remember seeing those life guards with white noses?
There are all types of skin cancers. Skin cancer affects all skin tones from fair to very dark. Dark skinned people may develop them on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet. Signs for all can be pearly or waxy bump, pink sore that looks like a scar or bleed like an injury, scaly wart looking lesion, (squamous), red nodule, moles that change in color, shape, and blue-black/white or red moles or irregularity. It can be a dark streak in your nail or look like you injured the nail and have a black spot. (melanoma).
One thing to remember, melanoma can develop on areas never or rarely exposed to the sun.
Eventually I will add photos of some of the scars with the hope it will prevent at least one person from tanning and use SPF more.
healthfinder.org is a site I check for information not just for myself but to pass along to others who are interested in learning more and find health information on several different topics.