Dermatologist works to raise awareness of skin cancer prevention on Melanoma Monday

DEARBORN — As a way to raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and to encourage early detection through self-exams, the American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday.

The AAD asks the community to join in the initiative by wearing orange on May 6.

Dr. Steven Daveluy, a Dearborn-based dermatologist with Wayne State University Physician Group, is working to raise awareness locally by educating his patients on the risk factors of melanoma, as well as ways to help prevent it.

According to the AAD, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one American almost every hour. It is also the most common type of cancer among patients ages 25 to 29, which doctors attribute to the rise in use of indoor tanning.

“The nature of melanoma is that it’s more aggressive than other types of skin cancers and spreads quickly, which is what makes it so dangerous,” Daveluy said.

“If we can catch it before it spreads, we can get about a 90 percent cure rate. But once it spreads, survival rates drastically decrease.”

That’s why dermatologists agree that prevention and early detection are key.

When it comes to the prevention of skin cancer, Daveluy said sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor.

“Burns are terrible and tanning is bad,” Daveluy said. “Wear clothing that covers your skin and remember to wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30, even on cloudy days.”

Daveluy said to remember to the “ABCDEs” of melanoma when performing self-exams, which refer to asymmetry, border irregularity, color, diameter and evolution. The AAD recommends patients perform regular self-exams of their skin, including the back, scalp, palms, soles and between toes.

Patients who have a changing mole, a new mole, or a mole that is different should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Melanoma Facts
• Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells.

• Melanomas may appear on the skin suddenly without warning, but also can develop on an existing mole. The overall incidence of melanoma continues to rise.

• Melanoma is highly curable when detected early, but advanced melanoma spreads to the lymph nodes and internal organs and can result in death. On average, one American dies from melanoma every hour.

• Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun and indoor tanning devices is the most important preventable cause of all skin cancers, including melanoma. Exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, especially in women aged 45 years or younger.

• Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use.

• Not all melanomas are exclusively sun related – other possible influences include genetic factors and immune system deficiencies.