In Dermatology

New research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) 2017 Annual Meeting in Orlando has emphasised the importance of skin cancer prevention and detection.

Researchers examined data collected from 118,085 individuals who received a free skin cancer screening through the AAD’s SPOTme® program in 2009 and 2010, and approximately one-third of those surveyed indicated that they had recently observed a change in the size, shape, or colour of a mole — one of the major warning signs of melanoma.

‘This result is encouraging, because it shows us that patients are keeping an eye out for suspicious spots on their skin, and that they know to see a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate those spots,’ commented board-certified Dermatologist, Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD, FAAD, a Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School, and one of the researchers who studied the SPOTme® data.

In compiling the SPOTme® survey data, researchers found that infrequent sunscreen use, high numbers of blistering childhood sunburns and chronic indoor tanning bed use were all associated with a recently changing mole.

‘These results indicate that although people know how to spot skin cancer, they aren’t taking action to prevent this disease from developing in the first place,’ Dr Tsao said.

‘While some individuals have a higher risk of developing melanoma than others, everyone increases their risk when they don’t protect their skin from harmful UV rays.’

The risk of developing melanoma is elevated among certain groups, including Caucasians, men over 50, people with a personal or family history of skin cancer, and those with many moles, atypical moles or large moles.

Among the SPOTme® screening participants studied, however, the factors associated with a changing mole included not only a high mole count and a history of melanoma, but also being female and having skin of colour.

‘While Caucasian men over 50 are at greatest risk for developing melanoma, skin cancer can affect anyone, so prevention and detection should be a priority for everyone,’ Dr Tsao added.

‘No matter your age, race or gender, it’s important to avoid harmful UV exposure from the sun and indoor tanning beds, and to perform regular skin self-exams so you can detect this disease early, when it’s most treatable.’

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