NASHVILLE – From days at the beach to afternoons out biking and hiking, people across Tennessee are eagerly soaking up the sunshine.
But doctors warn that sun lovers need to take steps to protect themselves from the most common form of cancer.
Dr. Wei-Wei Huang is a dermatologist who says many people still think of skin cancer as a mere inconvenience that requires removal. But she calls that a dangerous underestimation of the disease.
“Melanoma can be deadly,” she said. “If you don’t take care of that, it can grow in your lymph nodes and can be all over your body, and people do die from that.”
Huang recommends hats, sunglasses and sunscreen as some simple ways to protect against the various forms of skin cancer.
Since early detection is key for successful treatment, Huang said people should regularly check for any suspicious moles, lesions or changes in their skin.
She explained different forms of skin cancer appear in different ways, from a red, pimple-like bump to a dark, irregular-shaped mole. She recommended using the ABCDE rule to look for irregularities.
“A is asymmetry, B is a border – not smooth border, but jagged border,” she said. “C is color – so, the color is not evenly distributed, usually it is very dark.
D is the diameter, usually we say more than six-millimeter diameter. And E is evolution, if a mole starts to change.”
More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, along with 75,000 cases of melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.