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Saturday, June 2, 2007

It Can Happen to You....

I have a pretty big family...aunts/uncles, cousins and then more cousins. The younger family members are now getting older, marrying and having kids of their own.

Being at a wedding last night, our family had a chance to be all together, share memories, catch up with the goings on in our lives. We mostly heard good and happy things, but one young, college aged cousin shared something that was scary and upsetting. Although there is a happy ending, I wanted to remind people of the importance of seeking medical attention when you notice any suspicious skin markings and/or any changes in the way your skin looks.

This "bump"on my cousin's back turned out to be cancer. Two surgeries later, he is clear, but will constantly need to have x-rays of his lungs to make sure.

Treatment is more likely to work well when cancer is found early. If not treated, some types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs.

Many teens have a feeling of immortality, as do adults...that bad things only happen to other people. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in this country. About one million Americans develop skin cancer each year.

Better Safe, than Sorry....Do a self Exam
The best time to do a self exam is after a shower or bath. You should check your skin in a room with plenty of light. You should use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror. It's best to begin by learning where your birthmarks, moles, and other marks are and their usual look and feel. By checking your skin regularly, you will learn what is normal for you.

Check for anything new:
New mole (that looks different from your other moles)
New red or darker color flaky patch that may be a little raised
New flesh-colored firm bump
Change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole
Sore that does not heal
Check yourself from head to toe.


Skin cancer has a better prognosis, or outcome, than most other types of cancer. Still, learning you have any type of cancer can be upsetting. Information Specialists at 1-800-4-CANCER and at LiveHelp (http://cis.nci.nih.gov/) can help you locate programs, services, and publications.

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