AUSTIN, Texas — With all the sunshine we have been seeing this summer in Central Texas, oncologist Dr. Jeff Yorio with Texas Oncology said you need to be protecting your skin. He said that Texas is ranked third in the nation for the incidence of melanoma.
Dr. Yorio treats patients with advanced melanoma and helps run Texas Oncology’s advanced melanoma research program. He said although treatments have been becoming more effective in recent years, the best thing to do is prevent the cancer from ever happening.
He said tanning beds are correlated with melanoma, and said to avoid using them. If you are out in the sun, he said you should wear at least SPF 30, reapply sunscreen every two hours and wear protective clothing and hats.
“If we can catch it earlier, or when it's a precursor lesion, then we're going to do much better in the prognosis. That's going to be dramatically better than if you're having to come see me and it’s more advanced,” said Dr. Yorio. “And while we've made gigantic advancements in our treatments for more advanced melanoma, we'd rather people not get to that point.”
If you have a mole that is questionable, you should always go get it checked out by a dermatologist.
“The best thing they could tell you is it all looks good, so you don't have to worry about it,” said Dr. Yorio. “Then you're not thinking about it and worried about that, but we would much rather go get it checked out, than to just let it sit there and fester.”
He said to remember the ABCDEs of melanoma. Those are listed below, and are reasons you should go get a mole checked:
- A: Asymmetrical – If the shape of the mole is asymmetrical
- B: Borders – If the borders are not smooth
- C: Colors – If it has multiple colors
- D: Diameter – If it is large in diameter
- E: Evolving – If the mole is changing shape, size or color
“So, if you've got a mole that's asymmetric looking, if the borders look a little funny, if it has multiple colors, you always want to look at that. If the diameter of that mole is fairly big, so starts to get about 6 millimeters or so, those are things to start to be concerned about that you want to look at,” said Dr. Yorio.
Aside from getting questionable moles checked, you should get a skin check by a dermatologist every year. If you are someone who has a lot of moles, or have had cancerous mole skin the past, you should get checked twice per year, according to Dr. Yorio.
Dr. Yorio said if you find you have advanced melanoma, which is considered Stage 3 or Stage 4, there are options that can possibly help extend your life span. He is a part of clinical trials being held by Texas Oncology in Austin. He said these trials have seen success with many patients so far and are a good option for people looking for treatment for advanced cancers.
“Now, I've got lots of patients I've been treating over the last five-plus years who are still alive today, even though they had metastatic melanoma that presented in their brain and their lungs and other places,” said Dr. Yorio. “So, we've definitely made huge advances, but we still have a far way to go.”
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