Skin Cancer Awareness: Melanoma warning signs

Local

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.

Nurse practitioners Lindsey Goodyear and Kellie West know a thing or two about skin cancer. They not only work in cancer patients at Lafayette General Medical Center, but they were patients themselves.

“The mole was on my back. It was very small but for me it was the color,” Goodyear said.

“I hate to admit it but I had a lesion on my arm for about two years. I guess I was in denial. It had all the characteristics of melanoma,” West said.

Both were diagnosed with melanoma, just one of the many different types of skin cancer. Both Goodyear and West were able to remove their cancerous moles with surgery.

 “It had not spread beyond the skin and I was able to be cured by just surgery so I didn’t require any additional treatment,” West said.

According to health reports, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the US than all other cancers combined. However it is preventable.

“For other patients it’s not as lucky. The key is early detection to make sure it doesn’t spread to other places that requires more invasive treatment,” Goodyear said.

As to what to look out for – remember the ABCDE’s of melanoma.

A is for an asymmetrical mole.

B is for border. The borders of early melanoma tends to be uneven.

C is for color. A mole with a variety of colors is a warning sign – like black, brown, gray or even blue.

D is for diameter. Get it checked out if the mole is bigger than a pencil eraser.

E is for evolving. Be on the lookout for moles that have changed over time.
 
“I’ve had several that have been biopsied since. I go in regularly any time that I’ve seen something concerning. I look at those acronyms. If it’s any of those then it’s a red flag for me and I go in and get it looked at,” Goodyear said.

Doctors recommend seeing a dermatologist every year and wearing screenscreen.

“If you look at the SPF on a bottle, if it says 50 that’s going to protect you for 50 minutes. You need to be applying very frequently,” West said.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society
 

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