Our program featured Steve Fine who is the Founder and President of the Melanoma Education Foundation. The organization’s focus is on early self-detection and prevention of melanoma. They target high school and middle school teachers and students. Their free lessons and videos have been used in over 1,700 schools across the United States.
Melanoma is one of three common forms of skin cancer. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma usually appear in adults over 40, are sometimes fatal, and occur in heavily sun-exposed areas on the body. They also occur more frequently in the sunbelt area of the country. The onset of melanoma can occur in people as young as 10, it is fatal if not found early, it can occur in areas that are not exposed to sun, and it occurs throughout the United States. The increasing prevalence of the disease has led the American Cancer Society to predict nearly 200,000 new cases this year. 25% of new patients are under age 40 and it is the most prevalent cancer in the 25-29 age group.
The bad news continues because melanoma strikes without regard to health or physical condition. Only 10% of cases have a family history and there are usually no symptoms until it is too late because it is usually incurable when it spreads to internal organs. The good news is it is the easiest cancer to self-detect at an early stage and it is nearly guaranteed to be curable when found early. The removal is painless and does not require any chemotherapy or radiation.
Things to look for include large or irregularly shaped moles, particularly if they are growing or changing in color. The melanoma moles can get wider and become raised, but the real trouble is when they spread into the body. They eventually shed off cancerous cells that can make their way into the internal organs. Steve recommends a monthly body exam in front of a full-length mirror. Any suspect areas are to be treated as a serious threat. Arrange for a visit with a dermatologist immediately. Do not allow yourself to be put on a lengthy waiting list. More information can be found at www.skincheck.org.