HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Doctors say skin cancer cases, including melanoma, are on the rise.
“Melanoma, along with other skin cancers have continued to rise over time,” said Dr. James Grichnik, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of South Florida.
Doctors believe much of the increase is due to ultraviolet light, like the sun.
“Ultraviolet light is a mutagen so we need to be a little careful with how much exposure we get,” said Grichnik.
Roughly 200,000 melanoma cases are expected this year. Researchers believe about half of those will be invasive.
These are the red flags doctors want people to watch out for, they call them the ABCD’s:
- A: asymmetric moles
- B: jagged boarders
- C: moles with different shades of color
- D: moles with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
“Melanomas, of course, are often more darkly pigmented but they can even be lightly pigmented and they tend to grow in a non-uniform manner. So they progressively develop those ABCD’s,” said Grichnik.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and melanoma causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.
Experts say prevention is key.
“What we don’t want is for it to for it to develop to a more advanced stage. So like anyone else, do protect yourself from the sun,” said Grichnik.
Dermatologists encourage people to avoid going out in the middle of the day, wear long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses to reduce sun damage. They also say people should wear sunscreen with zinc oxide.
“I tend to prefer those that are the more physical blockers the ones bases on zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide. I just in general feel they are a safer product and might stand up a little better to the ultraviolet light,” said Grichnik.
With skin cancer cases on the rise again this year, doctors say there is a high-risk group they’re most worried about.
“Folks that have lighter hair colors, lighter eye colors, lighter skin colors burn more easily in the sun,” said Grichnik.
However, anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color.
That’s why dermatologists are urging everyone to do self-examinations often.
“In general if you have a spot on your skin’s surface, particularly if it doesn’t match other similar spots on your skin’s surface, and it’s growing and changing, that probably needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist,” said Grichnik.