San Diego Dermatology
Because I grew up on the beach in Southern California, having a tan was a normal part of my life. As a young girl, I would spend hours in the sun and come home with bright red sunburns and more freckles than I could count. I wish I had known back then what I know now about skin cancer. Despite the fact that malignant melanoma is killing people, it still seems to be a cancer that people do not often take seriously.
People tell me all the time “I was thinking I should get that checked.” If you think that, then please go see a dermatologist right away. I finally made my way in for a check a couple of years ago and the doctor removed two moles that she thought looked a little suspicious. The next day I received a call that they were both malignant melanoma. “Cancer?” — It seemed surreal. Fortunately, Dr. Pollack removed the tumors immediately from my leg and ankle and I have had no recurrence. I go to the doctor every 6 months now.
Understanding skin cancer can be confusing. To make it simple: if a mole or pigmented area anywhere on your body shows signs of asymmetry, irregular color, or irregular borders, have it checked. The doctor may then decide to do what is called a biopsy, by removing a small section of it and sending it to the lab. The most common type of irregularity is a basal cell carcinoma. This is fairly harmless and shows that there are changes in the outer layer of the epidermis. If it has gone a little deeper, it could be a squamous cell carcinoma. Sometimes your doctor will choose to remove a little more tissue to be safe. The least common, but the most dangerous is malignant melanoma. Left untreated, it can spread and be fatal. One of my friend’s husbands recently passed away from the cancer.
Wear sunscreen EVERYDAY, whether you plan to be outside or not. Have regular skin exfoliation treatments (such as microdermabrasion) to remove unwanted cells from your face. Wear hats. Most importantly, go get checked!