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7 Things doctors want you to know about skin cancer

Preventing skin cancer isn't always as simple as just wearing sunscreen every day unless you have all your facts right. Here are seven things doctors want you to know about skin cancer.

Cancer By Ariba Khaliq / May 28, 2015

Skin cancer facts

Every year, two million people in the US are diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. This rate is constantly increasing, even when skin cancer is the most preventable form of cancer. May is observed as the Skin Cancer Awareness Month and so we take the opportunity to inform you about things you should know about skin cancer. This includes your risk and ways to lower it.

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Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer

But, it is the deadliest. Melanoma only accounts for about 5 percent of all skin cancers. But, it’s about three times more deadly than the more common forms of skin cancer.

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Melanoma’s rate increases by about 6 percent each year

Doctors don’t fully understand why the incidences of melanoma are increasing so rapidly—six percent every year. In the early 1900s, about one person in 1,500 got melanoma. By 2014, the incidence was one in 50. Deaths from melanoma are approaching 10,000 a year.

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It does not differentiate

1. Your gender doesn’t matter: About 2 percent of Caucasians get melanoma. In men, it’s the fastest growing form of cancer, in terms of numbers. However, women aren’t untouched. 2. Whatever your age is: There’s no doubt that older people are at higher risk but, it’s not only seen in older people. Doctors see hundreds of patients with melanoma who are in their 20s. 3. Dark people get it too: It’s a misconception that if you’re black or Hispanic, or if you have darker skin and don’t burn, that you can’t get melanoma. It’s just that your chance of getting melanoma is far less.

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Check-ups shouldn’t wait

The most important factor is to detect melanoma in its early stages. Your chances of survival are directly related to the thickness of the tumour. A thin melanoma has a cure rate of over 95 percent. But, if the cancer has spread to stage 4, your survival rate is 10 percent. People in this stage of melanoma die within three to four months.

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Keep your eyes open

If you have moles, get them checked. Have your family members checked. The majority of melanomas are actually caught by patients or their relatives. Once a month, have a friend, family member or spouse check your body.

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Learn the ABCDE of what to look for

A = Asymmetry: Draw a circle around your mole. Then draw a line down the centre of it. Do both sides of the circle match? Is it symmetric? If it’s not, get it checked. B = Border: If one side’s nice and smooth and the other is jagged, it needs to be checked. C = Colour: Is it uniformly brown or does it have a blue tinge in the middle? The colour should be uniform. D = Diameter: Statistically, anything over 6 millimeters is more likely to form a melanoma. But sometimes even super small specks are melanoma. E = Evolving: For example, if you have a mole and it’s been fine, but suddenly starts changing — like if it starts bleeding, or if it was a uniform brown and suddenly develops a black spot in the middle — get it checked.

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Ditch stress and eat healthy

Stress increases your risk of cancer by leaps so, meditate. Just taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate significantly reduces your corticosteroids and increases your T cell surveillance of skin cancer and other cancers. Also, the best way to boost your immune system is by eating a healthy diet. Research has proved this over and over.

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