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Skin Cancer Awareness Month Hopes to Raise Awareness of Disease

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 15 May 2013 06:00am | comments
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More than 3.5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. That equals more than the number of new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. It's Skin Cancer Awareness Month and skin health professionals are attempting to raise awareness on how to detect and prevent this deadly disease. 
It's been more than a decade since editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer. But the Madison resident says he still remembers getting the news like it was yesterday. 
"I have a lot of moles and a lot of spots, so I hadn't been to the doctor in a while and I knew I needed to get it checked and a friend of mine who's another cartoonist, had melanoma and it kind of scared me into going to the doctor, and he [doctor] went kind of pale, and sure enough it turned out to be a very early melanoma but because I had done that, they found my malignant one a year later," describes Ramsey.
Because there is no  cure for melanoma early detection is the key to survival. Ann Norwood, a family nurse practitioner at the University of Mississippi Medical Center says ignoring symptoms can lead to devastating results. 
"A lot of times, it will continue to grow and it can continue to invade surrounding tissue, I know people who have huge pieces of their legs taken out and sometimes people have died from skin cancer as well," says Norwood.
Melanoma is often caused by exposure to high levels of sunlight. A mole can become cancerous years after the skin is burned from sunbathing or tanning beds. Norwood says One or more blistering sunburns during childhood or teenage years can cause skin problems many years later. 
"So we have to practice primary prevention and that's teaching the young children now to avoid getting sunburned and exposure to sun because an accumulation throughout the years of their life can turn into a melanoma and even some of the other types of skin cancer that is more common," continues Norwood. 
It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. 


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