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Reducing Skin Cancers In Sunny San Diego

Evening Edition

Aired 5/5/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST:

Dr. Hubert Greenway Jr., chairman of Mohs and dermatologic surgery at Scripps Clinic.

The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

A — Asymmetry

If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves will not match.

B — Border

The borders of early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

C — Color

Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. Melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.

D — Diameter

Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes 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 — points to danger.

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation

Being able to spend time enjoying the sun is one of the benefits of living in our region but it's also one of the challenges.

About one in five Americans will be treated for skin cancer in their lifetimes, including the potentially fatal form called melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. We take a look at symptoms to watch for, screening and new treatments available for those diagnosed with skin cancer.

"If you're going to live in San Diego, and we all love the sun -- that's why we're here -- you should be checked once a year, either by your dermatologist or by your family physician," Greenway said. "Most of us have 20 to 40 moles. Two early signs are that a mole may be itching, because most moles don't itch, or you just may be aware of a mole -- because if you think of your moles, most of us aren't aware of our moles."

As far as sunscreen goes, Greenway recommended people wear SPF 30 or higher to protect themselves from the sun's UVB rays. Greenway said it doesn't matter if you use spray or lotion, or if you use an SPF higher than 30.

"Get one you'll use," Greenway said.

Greenway said more melanoma in America is found on the left side of people's faces, since that side is exposed to more sunlight due to the location of an automobile's driver seat.

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