Earlier this month, we sent out tips on how to protect you and your loved one’s skin from the sun. But what happens when the sun exposure has already happened? Your elderly family or patients may already be at risk for melanoma. Melanoma is a serious skin cancer that occurs when our skin cells grow out of control. We’ve put together more information on what melanoma is, how to check for it, and what type of treatment options exist.
Exposure to UV radiation either from the sun or tanning beds and lights results in an increased risk for melanoma. Other risk factors include family history, a weakened immune system, fair skin, and a history of sunburn. People with multiple or unusual moles are also at higher risk.
There are several types of melanomas:
- Superficial spreading: usually on arms, legs, chest, and back.
- Nodular: grows quickly, moles could have a red appearance, occur on the chest, back, head and neck.
- Lentigo maligna: older people, initially can look like a stain on the skin surface, is slow-growing.
- Rare forms include Ocular, which is in the eye, and Desmoplastic, which is in pigment cells and is invasive.
Melanomas can be on any part of the body including between toes, on palms, soles of feet, scalp, genital area, under a nail.
See any moles? Some signs to look for are:
- Asymmetrical shape
- Irregular borders
- Change in the color of the mole
- Larger diameter
- Evolving changes
You can review the guidelines for an at-home-check at this link — it’s always better to keep an eye out! Treatment can include surgery, radiation, medication and at times chemotherapy.
Early detection is key but prevention is best.
- Avoid sun mid-morning to mid-afternoon
- Wear sunscreen all year round
- Wear protective clothing
- Avoid tanning beds/lamps
Doctors should check for any signs of skin cancers during regular checkups, and it is always fair to request them to do so if you feel like they may have overlooked any spots on your relative or patient’s skin that could be skin cancer. At-home checks are also a good way to monitor — if you find anything like that, let the doctor know so it can be further evaluated.
We hope you enjoy the sun this week! Take some time to soak it all in, safely and prevent elderly skin cancer. As always, Abundant Home Health Care is here to support you and your loved ones. If you are in need of home care assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.