Published on May 24, 2007
Contact: Julie Monzo
Phone: 800-323-4040, ext. 7538
Early Dectection Key To Treating Skin Cancer
College of American Pathologists provides skin cancer information at www.MyBiopsy.org
Northfield, IL.—Each year, more than one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. With summer just around the corner, more time is spent outdoors, increasing your exposure to damaging sunrays and risk for developing skin cancer.
Pathologists—physicians who study tissues and cells to identify and diagnose diseases—review growths and cells for potential cancer. They diagnose new cases of skin cancer every day in the laboratory.
“As a pathologist, I know that most types of skin cancer can be treated successfully if detected early,” said Soon Bahrami, MD, a dermapathologist in Louisville, Ky., who specializes in diagnosing skin cancer. “However, when skin cancer remains untreated, it can lead to serious health conditions, sometimes with fatal results.”
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that skin cancer will claim more than 10,000 lives in 2007. If you or someone you know if diagnosed with skin cancer, it is important to receive accurate, credible information to help you better understand the disease.
The College of American Pathologists has created a new cancer information Web site—www.MyBiopsy.org. Visitors to the site can find answers to their questions about skin cancer; available treatment options; a list of questions they should ask their doctors; a glossary of key terms, as well as pictures of normal and diseases skin cells.
“No one wants to hear the word cancer’ at a doctor’s visit, even it if not life threatening,” said Dr. Bahrami. “That’s why, the College of American Pathologists designed www.MyBiopsy.org with the patient in mind to help alleviate some of this angst and to empower patients with reliable information to help them make the best treatment options for themselves or someone they love.”
To find skin cancer early, when it is most treatable, it is important to do monthly self-examinations in addition to annual check-ups with a physician. Be aware of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on the skin, especially when they show growth or changes in their patterns. Discuss any area of concern with a physician.
One tumor of particular concern is the malignant melanoma, potentially the most dangerous form of skin cancer. As a guideline, follow the “ABCD rule” to distinguish a normal mole from a melanoma:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border irregularity: The edges of the mole are ragged or notched.
- Color: The color of the mole lacks uniformity. There may be differing shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes patches of red, blue or white.
- Diameter: The mole is wider than six millimeters (about 1/4 inch or the size of a pencil eraser), although doctors are finding more melanomas between three and six millimeters in recent years.
Like many cancer, prevention is key and can save your life. Pathologists recommend these steps to reduce your risk of skin cancer from the sun.
- Apply a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily to exposed skin.
- Re-apply sunscreen every two hours when outside, even on cloudy days.
- When outside, cover up—wear a hat and long-sleeved clothing.
- Be especially careful between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the rays of the sun are the strongest.
Protection of children should start at an early age and continue throughout a person’s life. Research has shown that sun damage to the skin in childhood and during the teen years is linked to skin cancer later in life.
The College of American Pathologists is a medical society serving nearly 16,000 physician members and the laboratory community throughout the world. It is the world’s largest association composed exclusively of pathologists and is widely considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance. The College is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective medical care.