Learn How To SPOT Skin Cancer
Preventing skin cancer is an ongoing health battle for every dermatologist. Tarzana and other areas of Los Angeles offer no shortage of patients with this preventable disease. With so much sunshine, it’s tempting to get in the habit of forgoing sunscreen and simply basking in all that UV radiation with no protection. The beach body culture of California also encourages indoor tanning – a leading risk factor for deadly melanoma. Patient education is the most important tool dermatologists have at their disposal for combating cancer. What resources can doctors share with patients to increase awareness about sun safety and offer training in early disease detection?
SPOT Website Puts Spotlight on Skin Lesions
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has devoted an area of its website to educating patients about how to “SPOT Skin Cancer”. This resource was developed in response to a survey which revealed that many Americans don’t know how to identify skin tumors and have little awareness of their risk for getting skin cancer. On the SPOT web pages, patients can:
· Find instructions for performing a skin self-exam
· Download a body mole map (for tracking the size, shape, location, and other characteristics of suspicious moles)
· Locate a dermatologist
· Discover local, free screening events
· Read about and swap stories with other survivors
· Learn important sun protection tips
· Explore statistics and information about prevention and treatment
Visitors can even download and distribute educational materials so others in their community can benefit from the AAD’s “Prevent. Detect. Live.” campaign. The website also has an extensive set of patient education resources for dermatologists to use in their practices.
Skin Cancer Facts to Know
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. More than 12 million people are diagnosed with this disease each year. About 20% of the US population will probably have one or more cancerous skin lesions in their lifetime.
Unlike other forms of cancer, suspicious skin lesions can be readily detected with a visual examination (the diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy). This means patients have the opportunity to spot skin cancer before it progresses too far.
When caught early, even the most dangerous skin tumors are almost always easy to treat with a simple surgical procedure. For example, patients who have a melanoma lesion removed before the cancer spreads below the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) have a 5-10 year survival rate of close to 100%.