Now that it's warming up, many of us will start spending more time in the great outdoors, but a local dermatologist wants to remind you about the dangers of melanoma and to share a new high-tech tool to detect it.
While the sun can be a great source for good old-fashioned Vitamin D, it can also be a disaster, if you get severely sunburned, putting you at a higher risk for melanoma.
"Those who have sunburns and exceeding sun exposure are at the highest risk and we know now that just having one blistering sunburn in early childhood can dramatically increase your lifetime risk for developing a melanoma," explains Dr. Sherry Ingraham, Dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology.
Cumulative sun exposure can also be a cause of the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
"Oftentimes, people don't wear sunscreen because they're thinking oh it's cloudy outside, it's wintertime, but that UVA is always penetrating through our car windows, through the glass, and we also know that melanoma has a very large genetic component. So if you are the first-degree relative of an individual with a history of melanoma, please get a skin check with a board-certified dermatologist," encourages Dr. Ingraham.
Melanoma often looks like an irregular-shaped brown spot, larger than a green pea. Doctors often take a biopsy of it to confirm cancer, but not anymore! Dr. Ingraham is now turning to a revolutionary tool to help detect melanoma less invasively. It's a biopsy with a sticker, instead of a scalpel!
"It actually detects early molecular changes in the skin, that are indications that there are genetic or DNA changes in the skin that are associated with melanoma development, long before we can see them with our eye. Your dermatologist, or one of their assistants, would have you come in, they would actually take this sticker, and they would apply it on the lesion in question four times. And I always tell patients, just take some moment it's like putting a little piece of tape on the lesion. We send four of these to the lab and within about a week you will have the report that from DermTech that will tell you if this lesion is a high-risk lesion and therefore needs to be excised or biopsied further, or if it's a low-risk lesion in which case we would just watch that lesion," explains Dr. Ingraham.
Dr. Ingraham says the DermTech smart stickers are more than 99 percent accurate!
She encourages you to search your own body, and even your loved ones, for freckles or moles that might look suspicious.
"Look between your toes. Look in crevices, have a loved one do an exam for you because I have seen melanomas, and you can see this often in the literature in places that you would never imagine! Hairdressers find them in the scalp all the time, they can be inside your ears, between your toes, on your buttocks, and those are the lesions that unfortunately are caught later, and that's why they are so deadly. When melanoma is caught early, it is truly something that can often be treated and a patient can do very well and have a normal lifespan. The key is early an accurate detection," says Dr. Ingraham.
Dr. Ingraham says to remember to slap on your sunscreen, and immediately go to the doctor, if you notice any changes on your skin. People with light skin and eyes are at the highest risk of melanoma. Ninety-five percent of skin cancers can be treated if found early, but if untreated, melanomas can spread to other parts of the body and be incurable. Dr. Ingraham feels like technology, like these stickers, are the future of dermatology, but not every dermatologist is using them at this point. She says you can ask your doctor about it, and request it, if they don’t offer it.
You can find a doctor who does it offer it at this website: https://dermtech.com
For more information: https://advanceddermatologymd.com