Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer that has been affecting many Americans in the past few years. In order to generate more awareness among the masses, the American Academy of Dermatology celebrates the month of May as Melanoma Awareness Month. Declared as the National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month, May is a time dedicated to spreading awareness about skin cancer, its severity, preventive measures as well as the importance of early detection and skin cancer screening. Proper medication and treatment given after timely diagnosis can save precious lives of your loved ones.

My Story

Serendipity has it ways and it certainly did with me. About 7 years back, I ran thirty minutes late for a dermatologist appointment. As a consolation prize for not being able to do the facial peel I was scheduled for, the doctor recommended that, instead, I do my annual skin check-up. Begrudgingly, I consented. I never considered such checkups important and never had done one up to that point. I certainly did not think anything when the doctor took a sample of a tiny mole from my back, until a few days later when I got the news that the biopsy showed I had melanoma. The experience was horrifying to say the least, and that fateful day changed my life forever.  Thankfully my diagnosis was at very early stages and I am cancer free. And now my motto is Screening Saves Lives!

Importance of Skin Cancer Screening

Due to the complications associated with the disease, a timely examination and early detection are paramount. For this, full body skin examination is a fundamental tool that helps in the complete screening of a patient’s body and helps in diagnosing any benign marks or cancerous lesions that may turn up hazardous and life threatening in the form of melanoma. Many times these marks go unnoticed by the patients sitting silently to turn up eventually cancerous. More often, even when patients have seen those marks and lesions before examination by a doctor, they were not able to detect them as an early phase of cancer due to lack of awareness and medical background. This further emphasizes the importance of skin examination for cancer screening.

What to expect at skin cancer screenings

Skin cancer screening is done by dermatologists who are experts in diagnosing and managing skin cancer and are equipped with specialized training for the same. In a 10-15 minutes visit, they screen through every part of your skin from head to toe, review your medical history, and address your concerns regarding skin issues. During the skin examination, the dermatologist also informs and educates about how to examine the lesions for a change in color, size, or shape. Any probable change in the moles and lesions need to be reported and examined. This can help you in doing skin checkups at home by yourself in between your appointments with the doctor for complete skin screening. Become a part of the movement by getting a skin screening done for yourself as well as your loved ones. Make an appointment today!


Read more about early detection and self exams here and here



Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

Designated by the American Academy of Dermatology, National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month is dedicated to increasing awareness about skin cancer and the chances of early detection so treatments can be given early.

Skin cancer is a growing problem across the world. Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Currently, each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people; while each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Sun exposure is one of the root causes of skin cancer, and it is clearly an issue that we must all be aware of and take the necessarily steps to ensure we protect ourselves as best we can.  Here are my tips to protect yourself from the sun and lower your risk of developing skin cancer:

Broad-spectrum sunscreen

The sun’s ultraviolet rays come in two forms: UVA and UVB. UVA is the form of light that causes premature skin ageing and damages your skin’s cells and DNA; while UVB is what causes your skin to burn after sun exposure. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect against both either by deflecting the rays away from your skin or by converting them to heat energy.

Your sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) value is the level of protection it offers against UVB light. Be sure to use a sunscreen with SPF30 or higher; this will protect you from 97% of UVB light.

If you’re planning on swimming or sweat very easily, it’s best to go with a water resistant sunscreen. Similarly, if you are going in the water or towelling yourself dry, you have to assume you are wiping away the sunscreen and its protective benefits. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours to get the maximum benefit and not leave yourself vulnerable.

Protective clothing

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is easily forgotten. Pack a wide-brimmed sun hat when you head out for the day or pack your bag for your holiday. When at the beach or even shopping around town, cover your arms and shoulders with loose-fitting clothing, which will act as a physical barrier to the UV rays.

Be sensible

During hot summer days, it’s best to avoid going out or seek shade during the peak hours (usually 10 am to 4 pm) when UV rays are at their greatest. Also avoid using tanning salons, which increase your risk of skin cancer.

I hope these tips come in useful this summer and help you make the most of the gorgeous weather without increasing your risk of what is becoming a very common yet avoidable disease.


Read more here and here

White Wine and Melanoma

Today is not a good day. Everything was going so well until I read about a possible connection between white wine and melanoma. Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of my favorite pleasures. And I prefer white wine to red, mainly because reds give me a headache. I also like the lighter refreshing taste of white wines, especially during the warm months. But today I read about a study that has found a link between white wine and an increased risk of melanoma.


For the study, researchers at Brown University looked at data from three large studies.   They tracked the eating and daily drinking habits of over 210,000 adults over an 18 year period. What they discovered was, when looking at overall alcohol intake, each alcoholic beverage consumed daily was associated with a 14 percent greater risk of melanoma. However, when the researchers looked at the melanoma risk by each alcohol type, only white wine could be independently associated with melanoma.  With each daily glass linked to a 13 percent greater risk of melanoma. Even more disconcerting was melanoma risk per drink per day was higher in woman than men. The only silver lining to this news for me is that beer, red wine and liquor did not significantly affect melanoma risk.  So I may have to get used to the taste of red wine after all!

Making a Switch

I was also heartened to read that the researchers believe more studies need to be conducted into the association between white wine and the risk of melanoma. But those identified in risk groups, such as those with freckles and a history of skin cancer, should make the switch to red wine.  Or, brace yourself, give up drinking altogether to cut their risk of melanoma.

This study is also a reminder that we are at risk of skin cancer even when we don’t expect it.  This makes it even more important to practice safe sun and protect ourselves as best we can against known risk factors. Cover up exposed skin.   Avoid outdoor activities when the sun is at its peak.  Protect your eyes.  And, most importantly, use sunscreen.

Now I’m going shopping for a good red wine, any suggestions are welcome!

If you want a more detailed breakdown of the findings from the study, you can find it here: Melanoma risk