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South Texas Living

Healthy Living: Expert cautions: Be sun-smart this summer

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July 23, 2014 | 3,480 views | Post a comment


AUSTIN -- From days at the beach to afternoons out biking and hiking, people across Texas are eagerly soaking up the sunshine. But doctors warn that sun lovers need to take steps to protect themselves from the most common form of cancer.

Dr. Wei-Wei Huang, a dermatologist, said many people still think of skin cancer as a mere inconvenience that requires removal. But she called that a dangerous underestimation of the disease. “Melanoma can be deadly,” she stressed. “If you don’t take care of that, it can grow in your lymph nodes and can be all over your body, and people do die from that.” Huang recommends hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen as some simple ways to protect against the various forms of skin cancer.

Since early detection is key for successful treatment, Huang said people should regularly check for any suspicious moles, lesions, or changes in their skin. She explains that different forms of skin cancer appear in different ways, from a red, pimple-like bump to a dark, irregular-shaped mole. She recommends using the ABCDE rule to look for irregularities.

“A is asymmetry, B is a border -- not smooth border, but jagged border,” she explained. C is color -- the color is not evenly distributed, and usually it is very dark. D is the diameter, usually we say more than 6-millimeter diameter. And E is evolution, if a mole starts to change.”

More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, along with 75,000 cases of melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.

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