Melanoma Month – May is Skin Cancer Awareness

May is skin cancer awareness month and awareness of melanomas could save your life.  Melanocytes are the cells in your skin that produce melanin, the chemical responsible for the color of your hair and skin.  ‘Moles’ on your skin are actually just a dense collection of this hormone.  When the cell grow abnormally and spread the lesion is known as malignant.  Melanomas, or tumors of malanocytes, are not the most common type of lesion to occur on skin and actually make up a small percentage of skin cancer.  Unfortunately, a melanoma can be especially dangerous and are responsible for almost 3 out of every 4 skin cancer deaths.  
Fortunately, melanomas are curable when detected early and treated.  Additionally, the risk of having many skin cancers is decreased significantly by proper protection from the sun.   This isn’t the first blog we have promoted skin protection through use and frequent reapplication of SPF 15 or higher sun block.  It is worth repeating that preventing sunburns through use of sun block and protective clothing greatly reduces your risk of having melanomas, basal cell carcinomas, and other skin cancers occurring from sun exposure.  While there is a smaller incident of problems like this in the foot, taking a few minutes to apply sun block to your feet before throwing on your sandals for a day outside can eliminate the risk altogether.  Be sure to reapply sun block every 2 hours if you are out in the sun for long periods of time. Melanomas most commonly occur on the backs of men and on the lower extremity of woman, two places easily exposed at the pool or a visit to the beach.
melanomaLighter skin is more prone to damage from the sun making Caucasians the largest population affected by melanomas.  In addition to preventing exposure and damage from the sun, it is important to examine your skin regularly.  Keep an eye on any moles or discolorations in the skin and note any changes in size or color.  Melanomas can appear in different forms but most often are flat, irregularly shaped with different shades of black and brown.  If you notice any changes like this on your feet, make an appointment with your Austin podiatrist so quick and effective treatments can limit the dangers of this skin cancer.
Until next time, keep those feet happy and health Austin!
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