Skin Cancer & Triathletes
It's that time of year again - that time when I tell everyone who's reading to go visit their reputable, local dermatologist for a skin check...as regularly as you would your dentist or GP for a checkup.
Why, do you ask? It's quite simple really, and stems from my personal experience with the suspicion of melanoma and numerous skin excisions and cryotherapy I've had over the last couple of years, the most recent of which within the past month. I'll spare you the finer details of my situation, but I think my dermatologist looked at me like she thought I was a dead man walking a little over two years ago when she first saw my mole. It was nasty, ugly and fit all the visual descriptions of melanoma. Metastatic melanoma after all, does not have a very high survival rate. Thankfully for me, all of my biopsies have come back negative.
With the amount of time that we all spend outdoors swimming, biking and running, our regular exposure to the sun can be cause for cocern and all it takes are a couple of preventative measures to keep your risk of skin cancer down. Here are a couple of tips:
*Stay out of the sun as best you can between peak hours of the day, especially during summer, those at higher altitudes or if you ski regularly.
*If you're out during this time of day, seek shade if possible.
*Cover up with sleeves, hat, UV blcoking sunglasses, etc. With the skin coolers that are on the market today, this option becomes more reasonable on hot days.
*Wear broad spectrum sunblock of at least 15SPF. Reapply every couple of hours and immediately after swimming.
*Examine your skin regularly - at least once a month - for any new/changing moles/freckles.
*See a dermatologist for regular skin checks...and make sure they check the places that the sun don't shine. Seriously.
It doesn't take much to prevent bad things from happening with regard to skin cancer. Just be proactive about any anomalies that you notice with your skin/moles. If you have any moles, here are the ABCs to be aware of if you suspect something funky:
*A: Asymmetrical. Pretty self-explanatory.
*B: Border. The borders of the mole/melanoma are uneven.
*C: Color: Having a mole with different colors or different shades of the same color.
*D: Diameter: Melanoma will generally have a diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser.
*E: Evolving: Any changes in the size, shape, color, elevation or other symptoms such as itching or bleeding are warning signs.
There you have it, folks...a quick and easy guide to help minimize your risk of skin cancer and melanoma and things to look out for. For more information, check out melanoma.org
Share, comment, tweet this if you like...it just might save the life of someone out there.