Albany Med Surgeons Educate Public During Skin Cancer Awareness Month
ALBANY, N.Y., May 6, 2014 – For Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Albany Medical Center specialists are working to educate the public about skin cancer, a highly preventable condition that is now the most common form of cancer in the United States, beating out cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
Over the past year, Albany Med pathologists evaluated 40,000 specimens (tissue biopsies) from 25,000 patients and found that more than 70% were skin cancer or premalignant.
Albany Med surgical oncologists and reconstructive surgeons are using the ABCs to help people recognize the warning signs:
A. Asymmetry: If you draw a line through the mole and the two halves do not match, it’s a warning sign that something could be wrong.
B. Border: The borders of early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
C. Color: A variety of colors, shades of brown, tan or black is another warning signal. Melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.
D. Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may be smaller when first detected.
E. Evolving: Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting indicates a problem.
“Conducting a self-examination is something everyone should do at least once a year if not more often,” said Ash Patel M.D., a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in reconstruction following the excision of skin malignancies. “Any changes, even those that appear to be insignificant could be an early indicator that something is going wrong.”
“Women under the age of 39 and men over the age of 50 are most at risk of developing skin cancer,” said Ankesh Nigam M.D., a surgical oncologist at Albany Medical Center. “Furthermore, if you’ve sustained more than five sunburns your chance for melanoma doubles. That’s why we adamantly urge folks to use sunscreen every day, especially now that we’re in the warmer months.”
Matthew DiCaprio M.D., the region’s only fellowship-trained musculoskeletal oncologist, says he encourages people to schedule an appointment with their primary doctor or dermatologist immediately if they suspect something might be wrong. “Just as it is with every other form of cancer, early detection and treatment is essential in increasing the chances of a positive outcome.”
To learn more about the different types of skin cancer and warning signs please visit www.amc.edu/skincancer.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with more than 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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