Suntanned skin looks nice….but is not worth it

I recently had a family member diagnosed with melanoma.  He was an avid sunbather.  Would spend his days at the pool from 11am-3pm as often as he could.  And in the colder seasons, he went to the tanning bed.
This week his biopsy result showed melanoma.  I talked with him today, and he said he won’t be going to the tanning bed anymore, and that he’ll use sunblock instead of accelerator.
What is melanoma? 
Melanoma is a serious skin cancer.  It can occur anywhere on the skin. When it is not treated, melanoma can spread to organs inside the body.
What are the symptoms of melanoma? 
Melanoma often looks like a brown or black mole or birthmark. But it has features that make it different.  People can remember the abnormal features of melanoma by thinking of the letters A, B, C, D, and E
  • Asymmetry – both halfs look different 
  • Border – uneven edge.
  • Color – uniform or different colors.
  • Diameter
  • Evolution – color or shape can change over time.

Diagnosing melanoma:

Biopsies can confirm or rule out melanoma.  During a biopsy, a doctor will usually remove either a small sample or the whole abnormal area.  If it is melanoma, it will be staged.  This tells us how deep in the skin and how far inside the body the melanoma has spread.  This helps direct treatment. 

How is melanoma treated? 

  • Surgery – Removes the cancer. During surgery, lymph nodes are checked to see if the melanoma has spread inside the body.
  • Radiation therapy – Radiation kills cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy – Medicines that kill cancer cells.
 What happens after treatment?

You will need to be monitored to see if the melanoma comes back or if new melanomas appear. Blood tests and imaging tests may be ordered.  

 Can melanoma be prevented?

Protect your skin from the sun’s rays. 

  • Stay out of the sun in the middle of the day (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Wear sunscreen and reapply it often
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, or long pants
  • Do not use tanning beds.
 Many moles and birthmarks are normal and are not melanoma. But if you have a mole or birthmark that you think might be abnormal, show it to your doctor or nurse

About cschaffer78

I'm a family practice physician in Evansville, IN. My practice is described as "full-spectrum" family practice, meaning I see patients "from cradle to grave". I care for men and women of all ages, I deliver babies, and even follow my patients when they are hospitalized. Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider
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2 Responses to Suntanned skin looks nice….but is not worth it

  1. Jennifer Rogers says:

    What about white areas on the skin?

  2. cschaffer78 says:

    White spots can be from a few things; 1. depigmentation from vitiligo, which is where certain areas of skin lose brown pigment. 2, a fungal infection called tinea versicolor. 3. Site of steroid cream/injection. 4. Scarring. These are the common things, all of which are benign.

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