You can make the all-star team 12 times, earn 10 Golden Gloves awards and get voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, but, as Mike Schmidt discovered, all that time spent in the sun may come at a price. In 2014, he was diagnosed with stage III melanoma. It had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and brain; he had multiple surgeries and underwent months of chemotherapy and radiation. Fortunately, he emerged cancer-free!
Recent advancements in treatment of melanoma include add-on immunotherapies that tackle melanoma that's spread to the lymph nodes and new treatments for stage IV melanoma that cannot be surgically removed. Many of the 14 approved treatments in the U.S. are individualized, depending on the disease stage and the markers in a person's tumor.
Best results, of course, come with the earliest detection. A new paper published in CMAJ advises the following:
- Check your skin for colored lesions that have an asymmetric shape, irregular border, color variation, a diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser or changed in color, shape or size.
- Remember, around 10% of melanomas may be pink, red or normal skin color.
- Melanomas often show up on the face, neck, arms and torso, but they can also be on your palms, between your toes and on the soles of your feet.
- Reduce your risks by never using a tanning bed; covering up exposed skin with SPF 30+ micronized zinc oxide sunscreen when outside; and scheduling a full-body skin check with a dermatologist annually.
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