Invasive Melanoma is Life Threatening; Prevent it By Being Proactive!

Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in Dr. Oz’s Cancer Prevention Clinic. Helping people learn the warning signs of melanoma, a skin cancer with life-threatening potential, is a passion for me. About 3 years ago, I noticed a mole on my leg was becoming slightly darker. Although it did not look particularly worrisome, the dermatologist in me knew that any change in a mole was often the first sign that it could be dangerous. I had it removed by a colleague and it revealed the worst: malignant melanoma. Thankfully, my melanoma was in the earliest stages and completely removed with surgery.

Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in Dr. Oz’s Cancer Prevention Clinic.  Helping people learn the warning signs of melanoma, a skin cancer with life-threatening potential, is a passion for me. About 3 years ago, I noticed a mole on my leg was becoming slightly darker. Although it did not look particularly worrisome, the dermatologist in me knew that any change in a mole was often the first sign that it could be dangerous. I had it removed by a colleague and it revealed the worst: malignant melanoma. Thankfully, my melanoma was in the earliest stages and completely removed with surgery.


For many people, there is a misconception that skin cancer is not dangerous. Nothing is further from the truth! Consider the following statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation:


  • Approximately 1 American per hour dies from melanoma
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in women aged 20-29
  • In the past 2 decades, melanoma rates have more than tripled
  • One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime

How to protect yourself from invasive Melanoma?  Be Proactive!
It is important to get familiar with your skin by performing a self-skin examination once a month. The best time to do the exam is either before or after the shower when the entire skin surface can be seen.  Pay particular attention to what dermatologists call the “ABCDE” signs of melanoma:


Moles that are Asymmetric (one half looks different from the other), with jagged Borders, Color variation, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser (although melanoma can start much smaller than this) and are Evolving or changing.


Even though I have a sizeable scar on my leg, I am thrilled to report that to this day I am cancer-free.   But this episode had a profound effect on me.  A diagnosis of cancer has a way of making the nuisances of daily life seem less important and focuses attention on those things that are truly meaningful: family and friends. Beyond enriching my personal life, my melanoma diagnosis changed me as a doctor. The mole on my leg that turned out to be melanoma was not particularly scary-looking, and in fact, I had shown it to several other doctors who dismissed it as a “nothing.”  However, it had changed.  A changing mole is a dangerous one and always needs evaluation. By performing self-skin examinations on a regular basis, everyone has the power to detect changing moles and bring them to the attention of a doctor.  When melanoma is caught in the earliest stages, it’s almost 100% treatable!

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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