The majority of skin cancers (melanomas) are removed in the physician's office and fortunately are cured.
However, skin cancers do have a habit of recurring. If a skin cancer is going to recur, this always occur within the first 3 years. During this time period, one must be very vigilant of any new skin lesion.
The key to the diagnosis of a recurrent skin cancer is patient awareness and regular physician follow up.
Any patient who has been diagnosed and treated for a skin cancer must follow up with a dermatologist.
For those who have had a diagnosis of a melanoma, a follow up every few months is highly recommended.
Besides the skin, the nodes in the axilla and groin must be carefully assessed for the first few months, if all is clear, the annual exams are recommended.
One can greatly diminish the risk of skin cancer by:
Sun: Avoiding sun is the key to prevention of skin cancer. Sun is the highest risk for skin cancers. One must avoid the peak sun times from 10 am to 3 pm.
Sun screens. For those who love the sun, the use of sun screens with an SPF of >20 is recommended.
Today, sunscreens are available which can block both UV A and UV B rays. Buy sunscreens which contain both inorganic and organic compounds. These newer sunscreen are effective at blocking almost 95% of sun UV rays
Clothing: For those who are constantly exposed to sun, wear protective clothing and a hat.
Specialized fabrics are now available which can reflect back the UV rays
Tanning booths: Tanning booths are a major risk factor for exposure to UV rays and should be avoided.
Self exam: In today's modern era of medicine, the patient also has to play a major role as a health care amateur. Examine your skin and know your body. If there are any changes in the skin which are new or puzzling, consult with your dermatologist
Any new lesion on the skin must be seen by a dermatologist.
Melanoma is a highly lethal when the diagnosis is missed.