I spend a large part of my day preaching the message of moderating your exposure to the sun. The subject of sunscreen factors heavily into that message.
Nobody likes skin tags and unsightly moles. Most of us are not Marilyn Monroe or Cindy Crawford and cannot make our moles sexy. Patients often seek out a dermatologist to have these growths removed.
Skin tags are those little pesky things that crop up around the neck, arm pits and groin areas. Patients call them tags, tabs, doodads, warts, thingies and barnacles. And moles come in all shapes and sizes, from hairy, black and red to just ugly. People sometimes affectionately give their moles pet names. Some mention that “Auntie Nell had a mole exactly in the same place” before adding, “I didn’t like Auntie Nell.”
The headlines are gripping: “Viagra increases risk for melanoma.” And commercials somberly advise,‘If you or a loved one has suffered melanoma, you should contact a Viagra attorney for a free consultation today.” So why aren’t older men dropping dead of melanoma on every street corner?
Sunscreen gets the bulk of our attention when it comes to sun protection. I wear sunscreen and I recommend you do as well. However as the old saying goes: “to err is human”. Most of us are simply inept at using our sunscreens. We don’t put it on thick enough. We sweat it off. We forget. We sometimes don’t care. The reasons we fail are endless. And so with summer right around the bend, I would like for you to consider your hats and how much they do, or don’t, offer you protection.
As if veterans exposed to Agent Orange needed another thing to worry about, a new study published in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery identifies a potential new connection between certain types of skin cancers and exposure to Agent Orange.
You have heard the message by now: Melanoma is deadly. You also probably know that it is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and that one American every hour dies from melanoma. Millimeter for millimeter, it is the deadliest cancer. Rather than bore you with statistics on this horrid disease, allow me to share with you some fascinating background on it you may not have heard before.
Sometimes truth and everyday reality is stranger than fiction. Had someone told me that someday I would be discussing one-eyed cyclopean sheep and sonic hedgehogs with my skin cancer patients, I would have laughed. But alas! Dermatologists are now sharing the bizarre tale of these creatures with patients diagnosed with complicated forms of a common skin cancer called Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Doctors have been prescribing it for decades for its protective cardiovascular properties. Millions of beating hearts are benefiting from it right now. Its ability to relieve pain and fever is so well known that “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is engrained in our psyche.
Would you trust a smartphone app to spot your melanoma? Apps do about everything fairly well, so why wouldn’t you?
The Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology reports that 3 out of the 4 apps designed to detect melanoma fail miserably when put to the test. The three that failed were all based on automatic algorithms. The best score among of these types of apps misidentified a startling 30 percent of melanoma as benign lesions. One program found only 7 percent of confirmed images of melanoma to be rated as “suspicious.” The only app to score well sent the image to a board certified dermatologist who evaluated the image. (No, it was not me and I do not know this individual).