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Melanoma Detection is Spelled “A-B-C-D-E”

POSTED BY: Matthew CiRullo, DO

Our skin is a breathing, sweating, protective border between our body and the world around us. Much like the heart and lungs, our skin is an organ that is vital to our overall health. What’s different about our body’s biggest organ is that signs of illness and disease are visible, but often overlooked. Matthew CiRullo, DO, is one of the residents practicing family medicine at Center for Family Care, a Florida Hospital practice located directly next to Florida Hospital East.

Currently, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime, the most dangerous type being melanoma. This kind of skin cancer typically looks like a brown or black mole, similar to a birthmark. Dr. CiRullo shares an easy-to-remember acronym to assist with skin cancer prevention that could potentially save your life, so be sure to check our ABCDEs!

A – Asymmetry: if you draw an imaginary line through the skin spot, does it look the same on both sides? Like a mirror image? Melanoma looks different on both sides.
B – Border: does the border/edge of the skin spot have a nice border? As if a drop of chocolate syrup was left on a dinner plate? Melanoma has a jagged border/edge, as if the drop of chocolate was smeared across a plate, with jagged, irregular borders.
C – Color: is the skin spot one solid color? Melanoma typically has different colors within the same spot.
D – Diameter/Size: is the skin spot larger than the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil? Melanoma tends to be bigger than a pencil eraser.
E – Evolving: has the skin spot changed in size, shape, or color? Melanoma often changes over time.
Luckily for us, we can reduce the risk of getting melanoma by wearing sunscreen while outdoors. So, what’s important to remember about sunscreen?
• Any SPF strength higher than SPF 15 can help reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. It is recommended that lighter skin individuals wear an SPF 30 or higher.
• Wear a sunscreen labeled “Broad Spectrum.” This will help protect you against the two types of skin damaging light rays: UV-A and UV-B.
• If you’re planning on getting wet, wear a “water resistant” sunscreen for 40 minutes of protection while in water. “Very water resistant” will provide 80 minutes of protection while in water. Remember, there is no sunscreen that is fully “waterproof.” All sunscreen can be wiped off when in water for too long. Always remember to apply another layer of sunscreen after any water activity.
• To get the best use of your sunscreen, and the best protection, be sure to apply enough! A good rule of thumb is to apply as much sunscreen that it would take to make a golf ball.

Most importantly, enjoy your summer!