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Get Checked For Melanoma In The Winter

Worried About Melanoma? Let Us Check Your Skin Now So You’re Summer Ready

by Beverly Matoney

Medically reviewed by Michael Ribadeneyra, M.D. FACP, Shelby Medical Associates



With winter winds and icy conditions all around, it seems strange to be talking about summer already. But this is an invitation to let us screen you for skin cancer now, so you will be sun-ready when the warm days arrive.



Why get a skin cancer screening in the winter, you ask? There are several reasons.

 

  • First, the sun can have an effect on your skin all year, even if the sky is overcast and cloudy. The skin you do expose in the winter is just as susceptible to sun damage as in summer. And, if you travel in the winter to higher elevations for skiing or other snowy outings, UV rays from the sun are even stronger.
  • Second, even if you’re spending the day indoors or in a vehicle, the sunlight streaming through your windows can have an adverse effect on your skin.
  • And third, if the screening shows that you need to have a biopsy for further evaluation, the evidence for that small procedure will be all but vanished by the time you switch to short sleeves.

Protect Your Skin Year-Round

Of course, the best way to keep your skin safe from UVA and UVB rays is to cover your skin in clothing and cover your head with a hat. You should also apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen on any other exposed skin.

Sun damage adds up over time, so it’s smart to be aware of any changes in your skin as you age. It’s always a good idea to check any moles, birthmarks or discolorations on your skin for changes that may occur. With continued sun exposure and damage, these spots can develop into a melanoma or other types of skin cancer.

A normal mole is usually an evenly colored brown, tan or black spot on the skin. It can be either flat or raised, round or oval. Moles are usually small, less than ¼ inch, or about the size of a pencil eraser.

Some moles can be present at birth, but most appear during childhood or young adulthood. If a new mole appears later in life, it should be checked by a doctor.

Follow The ABCDE Rule When Checking Moles

Most people have moles and almost all moles are harmless. But when you are keeping an eye on a mole, birthmark or other discoloration on yourself or a loved one, here are some signs to watch for, also called the ABCDE rule:

  • A is for Asymmetry. This means that one half of the mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other.
  • B is for Border. Check if the edges of the mole or birthmark are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C is for Color. Watch for color changes, especially if the color is not the same all over or includes shades of brown, black or patches of pink, red, white or even blue.
  • D is for Diameter. Even though melanomas can be smaller than the size of a pencil eraser, if your mole or birthmark is larger, or becomes larger, you’ll want to have it checked.
  • E is for Evolving. This means that your mole or birthmark is changing in size, shape or color.

Of course, not all melanomas follow the rules. Keep an eye on all of your skin and let your doctor know if you notice any new moles, skin spots or growths that weren’t there before or look different from the rest of your moles.

A few other warning signs to watch out for are:

  • A sore that does not heal.
  • A change in the surface of a mole such as oozing or bleeding.
  • The spread of pigment from the border of a spot into the surrounding skin.

If you find one or more spots that you think need to be checked, or if you simply want to be screened to be sure all your spots are behaving, call our office today to schedule a skin cancer screening.

What happens at a skin cancer screening?

Before you come into Shelby Medical Associates to be screened for skin cancer, take a look at your skin and make a note of any moles or blemishes that concern you. If a spot has changed over time, itches, bleeds or is new to you, be sure to bring that up at your screening.

Can You Check This?

During the actual screening, the doctor will check your skin for unusual spots and also check any moles or blemishes that you point out. Don’t be shy. Any mole that seems different to you is worthy of extra attention. Skin cancer can even occur in places that don’t get a lot of sun exposure.

Of course, just seeing an area that may be skin cancer doesn’t prove that you have skin cancer. The only way to determine that is with a simple procedure called a skin biopsy. The doctor will numb the area to be tested and scrape off the mole or blemish. You shouldn’t feel any pain at all.

What Happens After A Skin Biopsy?

This small biopsy will then be sent to a lab for evaluation. Our clinic sends samples to a dermatopathologist, a specialist who evaluates skin samples under a microscope for cancer cells.

Almost all moles are not dangerous or even a problem. However, if the lab notices any abnormal cells in the biopsy sample, the doctor will let you know what you should do next. Often, a second in-office procedure is enough to eliminate the abnormal cells altogether.

Early Detection, Early Treatment, Even In Winter

It is important to take care of your skin in all seasons, because the sun shines year-round. Take some time this winter to have a full-body skin cancer screening.

You may feel anxious about the thought of skin cancer.

Rest assured that the doctors at Shelby Medical Associates want you to be healthy all year, and want to be sure any potential skin problems are caught early.

Call Shelby Medical Associates today to schedule a screening for skin cancer. Then spend the rest of the winter being glad you did.

Take care of you.  Take care of yours. We’ll be here to help you with both.

Our Location:

711 North Dekalb Street
Shelby, NC 28150

Our Hours:

Mon - Thur 8AM-5PM
Friday 8AM-Noon
Sat & Sun Closed

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Disclaimer: The contents in this site, and any linked materials, is not intended nor should be construed as medical advice. With any and all health concerns the reader has, they should consult with a licensed physician or other provider.

Phone: 704-482-1482

Fax: 704-482-0811