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  • The ABCDEFGs of Mole Detection

    Skin cancer is on the rise. In fact, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancers are diagnosed annually in more than 2 million people. That’s roughly 1 in 5 people that will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. But skin cancer is just the beginning; it could lead or develop into other types of cancer. Checking for skin cancer or suspicious markings should be as easy as your ABC’s, which is the exact guide skin care experts have developed for looking for visible changes on the skin.

    With the advancement of technology there is a variety of tools available, such as the UMSkinCheck app available via iTunes. This app sends automatic reminders and offers step-by-step instructions for a skin self-exam. It also provides pictures of various types of skin cancers for comparison with any questionable markings on the skin you may encounter. But for those who aren’t as technologically savvy, the classic method of checking will still help.

    Follow the ABCDE’s of mole detection to check for potential risks and red flags:

    – Asymmetrical: an irregularly shaped mole.
    – Borders: the borders/edges of the mole are uneven.
    – Color: the mole is multi-colored.
    – Diameter: the mole is larger in diameter than 6mm (about the width of the top of a pencil).
    – Evolving: the mole has changed over time.
    – Firm: the mole is harder than surrounding tissue and doesn’t flatten if you press it.
    – Growing: the mole is getting gradually larger.

    For some there are just a few weeks left of summer; however, the prevention of skin cancer should be year round because ultraviolet (UV) rays are always present. Follow these tips for prevention and protection from UV rays:

    – Apply a teaspoon to the face and a shotglass amount to the body of a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) SPF daily (yes, everyday). Apply 30 minutes before going outside.
    – Ensure protection by wearing minimum SPF15, however SPF30 is preferable.
    – Reapply every two hours.
    – Seek shade, do not burn.
    – Exfoliate! It not only smooths and freshens skin, it helps to remove possible precancerous cells before they become dangerous.
    – Face-kinis are all the rage in Qingdao, China. This light cloth looks much like a ski mask but allows one to enjoy the water and sand without the effects of the sun, much like wearing a long-sleeved shirt.
    – Increase intake of antioxidants, fruits and vegetables. A variety of foods have been found to help minimize the attack of free-radical damage and even help protect us from the inside out. Drink moderate amounts of green tea or coffee, and consuming berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, cherries), colored peppers, red ripe tomatoes, turmeric root, and cocoa have all been found to be some of nature’s antioxidants.

    There are advances in genetic testing that can be done for those with a family history to identify potential threats and incorporate a possible vaccination. One such case is the catalytic DNA molecule (DNAzyme) that looks promising in vivo efficacy in the treatment of some types of cancer. PD1, while still in the early stages of clinical trials, is making waves as a potential for anticancer immunotherapy. Increased levels of the protein Panx1 is being further studied as a potential in treating melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). And two studies suggest that two peptide agents used either together or individually with a low-dose of a standard chemotherapy drug might offer more effective cancer therapy than current standard single-drug treatments.

    You can still enjoy your time in the sun, just remember your sun smarts and use your ABCDEFG’s when examining your skin!

    References:

    1. Rogers, HW, Weinstock, MA, Harris, AR, et al. Incidence estimate of nonmelanoma skin cancer in the United States, 2006. Arch Dermatol 2010; 146(3):283-287

    2. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 11, 602 (August 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrd3807

    3. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 11, 601 (August 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrd3806

    4. http://www.breakthroughdigest.com/medical-news/combination-peptide-therapies-might-offer-more-effective-less-toxic-cancer-treatment/

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