May is Melanoma awareness month
The American Academy of Dermatology is sponsoring May as melanoma awareness month. Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers being diagnosed approximately 40,000 times per year in the United States, with nearly half of the cases being fatal. It tends to affect both young and old people. It is imperative to be in tune with all moles and especially any moles that are odd or changing.
The dermatoscope is a new tool in the evaluation and detection of melanoma
Called the Dermatoscope, it not only improves the ability to detect skin abnormalities, but it also vastly improves the comfort of the patient while being examined.
The Dermatoscope contains an illuminated magnifying lens that allows physicians to look deep inside the mole, making the identification of suspicious moles easier without the need for a biopsy.
"This is a very special skin-surface microscope. You can do a much better job with this than with the naked eye," said Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, founder of Crutchfield Dermatology and nationally recognized authority on the Dermatoscope.
In fact, studies show that dermatologists have an greater than 80 percent accuracy rate when they visually examine moles. But when thy use a Dermatoscope, it dramatically increases their accuracy to more than 95 percent, Crutchfield said.
"It greatly enhances the ability of dermatologists to make a correct diagnosis," he said. "It's a terrific tool for the evaluation of moles to let you know if they are either harmless or suspicious enough to warrant a biopsy." It's also a patient-friendly way to examine moles, he said.
"The beauty of this is you don't have to do a biopsy," he said. "And patients love it because they don't have to get a shot or stitches. It's quick and painless."
The examination takes only 15 to 30 seconds per mole. A thin layer of mineral oil is applied to the mole first, causing the top layer of skin to become completely transparent and allowing physicians to look deep inside the lesion in question.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers being diagnosed approximately 40,000 times per year in the United States, with nearly half of the cases being fatal, often affecting young people.
Basal cell skin cancer is diagnosed almost 1,000,000 times in the U.S. per year, but rarely is fatal.
If moles change in any way; size, shape or color, they should be evaluated immediately by a dermatologist
If moles bleed, without provocation, and don't heal in 3 weeks they should be evaluated immediately by a dermatologist
Use sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher and that also contain UVA protection.
Sunscreens can be applied after 6 months of age, sun protect before then.
Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun, and reapplied every hour or even more frequently if one is swimming or perspiring.
See spot, see spot change, see a dermatologist
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
or call 651.209.3600.
Charles E. Crutchfield III. M.D. is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Associate Professor of dermatology at the university of Minnesota Medical school. Dr. Crutchfield is an internationally recognized expert in skin care, having written over 100 medical and scientific dermatology articles, and co-authored a textbook of dermatology. He is recognized as one of the "Best Doctors in America", an honor bestowed on only 4% of all practicing physicians. Dr. Crutchfield is also medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology in Eagan, MN, www.CrutchfieldDermatology.com