By Iris Looi, PA-C, Russak Dermatology Clinic.


It’s finally spring outside and with longer and warmer days it’s closer and closer to our summer beach vacation days. We just can’t wait to see blue ocean, white sand and lie down and enjoy warm sun.

But please, keep in mind, that sun is a leading cause of deadliest type of skin cancer – Melanoma.

According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, over 160,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017.  It is thought that most melanomas arise as a result of UV radiation exposure.  There has been an alarming increase in melanoma diagnoses in younger patients, especially females, over the last several decades.  If diagnosed early, melanoma is a very curable cancer, as it typically just requires a simple excision of the lesion and close follow-up with your dermatologist.  However, we know that melanoma can spread very quickly to other organs and wreak havoc on the body.

Here are a few ways to stay ahead of the curve:

Schedule annual complete skin examinations with your dermatologist.

Look at your moles on a monthly basis for any suspicious lesions.  A useful tool to identify any suspicious spots is the ABCDEs of melanoma.

  • A is asymmetry
  • B is border irregularity
  • C is color
  • D is diameter (anything bigger than 6mm)
  • E is evolving (this is the most indicative sign that something may be going awry)

– Anytime you notice a spot on your body changing, bleeding, crusting, or growing bring it to the attention of a health care professional.

– Protect your skin by seeking shade, wearing physical sunscreens with zinc and titanium dioxide, and protective clothing.  Avoid being in the sun between 10am-4pm, as that is when the sun is strongest.

– Do not use tanning beds and avoid blistering sunburns.

Melanoma Before
Melanoma after

The photo on the left is a mole found on the foot of a vibrant, healthy, 27-year-old female patient.

The photo on the right is three weeks after the spot was fully removed (still in the healing process).

The patient notes that the mole had been there for quite some time but noticed it had changed a bit over the last two years.  She thinks that the mole has gotten bigger and darker.  In the photo, we see a mole that has irregular borders and some areas that are a darker than the rest of the mole.  This lesion was subsequently biopsied and diagnosed as a melanoma in situ.  Melanoma in situ is a very early type of melanoma that is just on the surface of the skin.  The area was then removed with a wide local excision to ensure that all of the cancerous cells have been removed.  For our patient, moving forward, the most important thing will be frequent skin checks and protecting her skin with sunscreen. The surgical site has healed beautiful, with minimal scarring.

Be sure to schedule your skin check Today!