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MOLES, MELANOMA, AND HOW TO EXAMINE YOUR SKIN FOR THEM
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Moles (Nevi) And Skin Cancer
Moles (usually tan and brown spots) are growths consisting of pigment cells called melanocytes. In certain circumstances these melanocytes could develop into malignant melanoma - a skin cancer that is usually fatal if diagnosed too late, but as high as 95% curable if caught early and removed.
We will examine any specific moles or your entire skin surface for suspicious moles if you wish. Simply let our assistant know you want this done before you see the doctor. A good cancer prevention program for all patients is monthly self-examination (see table) and yearly or semi-annual checkups by a dermatologist, depending upon the patient's specific history.
1. Moles You Are Born With
Dr. Schultz has been using a new advanced microscope for the skin. It magnifies surface features and reveals detail not seen with the naked eye, making evaluation more precise and the decision to biopsy or remove a mole more accurate.
2. What Other Moles Should
The doctor may also suggest moles that are darker in color, speckled in color, have any pink, red, or black in them to be removed. Any truly black color in a mole warrants immediate removal.
If a mole is in an area the patient
or spouse cannot examine routinely for change, it may be better to remove it.
N.B. Although recent elevation is a concern, most early melanomas are flat, so look for other indications such as darker or irregular colors.
3. What Risks Are Involved
In Removing Moles?
4. Do Moles Spread or Form
A Cancer Because of Removal?
5. Can The Mole Simply Be
In many cases this is the best cosmetic option, as long as the biopsy report shows a benign mole and the patient reports any return of color to the doctor for evaluation.
In some moles (including all flat moles) there is mole beneath the surface of the skin. I may prefer to remove some of these moles below the surface and close the area with fine sutures - a painless procedure.
6. What About Hair In A
7. Does Melanoma Run In
8. Why Didn't I Know All
This Before? My Doctor Usually Said Just Leave Them Alone.
9. Does Sunlight Affect Moles
Dr. Schultz was a guest faculty member at a surgical meeting with Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. During a melanoma panel at the meeting, Dr. Fitzpatrick relayed data to the doctors present, indicating evidence that even a single acute sunburn may induce melanoma in some individuals. With this in mind, together with wrinkling skin, basal and squamous cell skin cancer, and other problems with sun exposure, it is best to use protective clothing and sunscreen lotions with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or greater routinely. Ask us to recommend a good sunscreen for you.
10. Why Be Concerned About
All This? Isn't Skin Cancer Easily Treatable?
11. Do Numbers of Moles
Make A Difference?
PROCEDURE FOR SELF-EXAMINATION
The best time to do this simple monthly exam is after a bath or shower. Use a full-length and a hand mirror so you can check,any moles, blemishes or birthmarks from the top of your head to your toes, noting anything new—a change in size, shape or color, or a sore that does not heal. It is best if someone else examines areas you cannot clearly see.
1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides, arms raised.
2. Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms and upper underarms and palms.
3. Sit, if that is more comfortable, to look at backs of the legs, feet—spaces between toes and soles.
4. Examine back of neck and scalp with the help of a hand mirror, part hair (or use blow dryer) to lift it and give you a close look.
Dr. Schultz installed the only sunburn/ ultraviolet/ozone meter in Illinois at Loyola University Medical School where he teaches as Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. He recently tested a portable consumer device for the accurate measurement of ultraviolet light to prevent sunburn. He developed a surgical instrument for difficult skin cancers in 1979 (published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and presented at national and international scientific meetings), and has written articles for medical journals on skin cancer. A good portion of his book OFFICE PRACTICE OF SKIN SURGERY (for physicians) is devoted to skin cancer, as is a major part of a chapter on skin biopsy he wrote for a new textbook on skin surgery. He has studied laser surgery at several institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Marshfield Clinic. Dr. Schultz is listed in Who's Who in Cancer for his work In skin cancer and prevention.
Dr. Schultz continues to operate the sunburn meter and has provided data on peak sunburn times to the news media for over a decade. Tom Skilling (WGN-TV) has used this data during the summer since 1992 - most frequently on the noon-1PM newscast and occassionally the 9-10PM news. The Tribune lists his times daily on the weather page for 7AM, 1PM & 4PM. Dr. Schultz and his scientific paper on sun intensity are responsible for the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation extending their "intense sun" warning to 4PM starting in 1995.
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