It may seem obvious, but your massage therapist really looks at your skin. Massage therapists are trained to observe a person’s skin for cuts, bruises, rashes, and anything unusual before touching it. And this observation doesn’t just stop at first glance. Throughout the course of your session, your massage therapist will keep an eye out for anything on your skin that seems out of the norm, and if warranted, may refer you to a dermatologist or other health-care professional for evaluation.
While melanoma makes up only 4 percent of skin cancer cases, it is the most lethal type, accounting for approximately 8,000 deaths annually. Fortunately, there’s good news. Skin Self Examinations (SSEs) — a simple step-by-step, early detection approach — can reduce up to 63 percent of these deaths, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
The AAD recommends taking photographs of suspicious areas to determine a baseline so that you can effectively monitor any changes. The “ABCD” approach can then be applied:
The UV Index, a measurement of ultraviolet (UV) sun radiation, can help protect you and your family from potentially harmful exposure. This forecast of UV intensity ranges from a nighttime low of 0 to an intensely sunny 10+ and is greatest when the sun hits its apex (noon), then rapidly decreases as the sun moves across the afternoon sky. The higher the UV Index, the shorter the time for skin damage to occur.
A mismatch of expectation and realization. That is said to be a reason why sunscreen use is a risk factor in melanoma. Researcher Brian Diffey, of the UK’s Newcastle General Hospital, said the SPF numbering system on sunscreens is misleading people into believing the numbers actually indicate how much longer it takes the skin to burn than unprotected skin. His comments find merit as Americans went from spending $18 million on sunscreen products in 1972 to $500 million in 1996, while risk of melanoma has gone from 1 in 1,500 people in 1930 to an expected 1 in 75 this year.
Half of all cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, develops from moles. The average Caucasian American adult has 24 moles. A 1998 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that the number, size and appearance of moles all affect the risk of melanoma. Any mole that changes shape, color or size; any sore that doesn’t heal; any persistent patch of irritated skin; or any new growth, may be a sign of cancer and require professional attention.
I have had a patch of dry skin on my cheek for a long time. Recently it has begun to get red and itch. Just about the time I think I should have it checked, it gets better and goes away. I was worried about it being a skin cancer, but a friend told me that I shouldn’t worry because if it were a skin cancer it wouldn’t go away, it would just keep getting bigger. What do you think?