There’s a misconception that sun protection is only necessary in the summer. Sun protection, from wearing an SPF 30 daily to avoiding tanning beds, should be practiced year-round – even in the winter and on cloudy days.
Although there’s increased awareness about the risks of excessive sun exposure, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, afflicting more than two million Americans each year, a number that is increasing while other cancers are decreasing. Given the fact that 75% of Americans have not had a skin cancer check by a dermatologist, there is still a significant improvement opportunity for people to take the needed next steps to prevent, monitor and detect skin cancer.
There are multiple types of skin cancer, but melanoma is the fastest-growing and deadliest form. There are an estimated 135,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed each year and it is responsible for about 75% of skin cancer fatalities, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. With one person dying of this disease every hour, take a moment to assess your risk factor.
Melanoma is most common in people between the ages of 25-29, and women between the ages of 18-39 in particular are most susceptible, according to The New York Times. Do you have or have ever experienced any of the following? If so, you would be considered “high risk” for melanoma by dermatologists.
- Fair skin and light eyes
- Tanning bed use
- One blistering sunburn
- Family history of melanoma
- Having multiple moles or dysplastic nevi
- Previous melanoma diagnosis
Dermatologists are now responding with high-tech equipment, like MelaFind, to help in the melanoma diagnostic process. MelaFind is a one-of-a-kind, breakthrough device that helps dermatologists detect melanoma when it is still curable. FDA-approved, MelaFind uses light from visible to near-infrared wavelengths to evaluate skin lesions up to 2.5 mm under the surface of the skin. It’s non-invasive, painless and provides dermatologists with data in less than a minute.
New York City-based dermatologist Julie E. Russak, M.D., FAAD of Russak Dermatology Clinic uses the device in her practice. She shared, “For the patient, the dermatologist is still the most important entity in the skin cancer screening. MelaFind is not intended to replace full body skin examination by the dermatologist. The dermatologist initially identifies the most suspicious lesions that will then be screened with the MelaFind.”
Dr. Russak noted that “The most difficult decision faced by dermatologists is identifying suspicious moles, amongst many lesions. MelaFind has a 98.3% find rate to malignant melanoma, an astonishingly accurate output. With use over time, I have grown more confident in MelaFind’s ability to help my patients and for it to play a bigger role in my comprehensive melanoma clinic.” Dr. Russak also acknowledged that the images produced by MelaFind help her convince some patients that a biopsy is necessary.
Use this time to schedule your yearly skin cancer exam with your dermatologist. MelaFind is currently available in over 100 doctors’ offices and dermatology clinics in 29 states, so ask your dermatologist about the device, and if they’re a carrier, how it can be incorporated into your annual check-up. Please also visit a MelaFind.com/patients/melafinder to find a participating dermatologist near you.
In between dermatologist appointments, remember to continue self-exams by using the ABCDEs of melanoma as a guide (visual below), avoid smartphone apps that claim to diagnose moles (as studies have shown that they can be misleading or inaccurate) and continue smart (and safe) sun practices.
Disclosure: Assets and information provided by MELA Sciences, Inc.