May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. Here in the Coachella Valley, there’s no shortage of sunshine or outdoor activities.
“Fortunately we are in a place that is yes...sunny most of the year. The important thing is sun protection,” said Dr. Kim Phan, Oncology, Desert Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Phan says residents here should wear sunscreen daily: “Making sure that it’s a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher,” she said. Additionally, make sure your sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
With the annual sun exposure, residents here are at a higher risk for melanoma. Dr. Phan says you should regularly examine your skin keeping an eye out for any sort of irregularities.
“Whenever they examine a mole….follow the ABCDE’s,” she said.
When looking at moles or freckles, she says look for the following:
-Diameter (if a lesion ≥ 6 mm)
-Enlarging or evolving colors or shapes
“This is an example of a mole where you can see it’s asymmetric...and then there are irregular borders as well,” said Dr. Phan, showing News Channel 3’s Madison Weil images of melanoma.
“You can even see some color variation,” she said.
She says frequent self-examinations are key. “If you’re looking at a mole and see it looks different than the surrounding moles...that’s an important practice as well,” she said.
Early detection is critical when it comes to a treatment plan and your chances of surviving skin cancer. “Early diagnosis is key for improving patient outcomes as well as saving lives,” she said.