Dr. Richard Asarch was recently honored by the Melanoma Research Foundation, where these remarks were delivered:
“I would like to tell you how to grow a melanoma. The environment is important, so you should choose a location which has many days of sunshine. It would be even better if it could be at a higher elevation so that the intensity of ultraviolet rays is even stronger. Then you need participants who love spending time outdoors, giving themselves a “healthy” tanned appearance, and, a special bonus would be having them visit tanning salons to augment their “healthy” tan.”
As you suspect, the “How to grow a melanoma” is happening here in Colorado where the incidence of melanoma is higher than in the rest of the United States. Let me share a few unsettling facts with you.
- Every seven minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Melanoma.
- Melanoma is the second most common skin cancer among men and women aged 17-29.
- Every hour someone will die from Melanoma.
Just last week our office diagnosed four melanomas and we are seeing more than ever before.
I see parents being very conscientious with applying sunscreen to their children, but things seem to change when they reach teenage years when tanning and tanning salons become important. Studies have found a 59% increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
We are now at a point where one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime. So, if you look around, six or seven of you will probably develop Melanoma.
We have made progress, since it wasn’t long ago that if you had a melanoma, the treatment was to remove a circular area of about four inches. Today, if we diagnose it early, it is often just an inch and we can treat some melanomas with Mohs micrographic surgery to further minimize the size. The key is to find and diagnose this early.
Scientists have made great strides in cataloging the many genetic abnormalities of melanoma. Combination therapies are proving to be more effective. There are now treatments to prolong life that didn’t exist just tow years ago, but early detection and prevention are still the best route to preventing the spread and fatalities of this disease.
But, as you might expect, there is much work to be done which is why I am a supporter of the Melanoma Research Foundation’s efforts to increase prevention and early detection awareness efforts, and to expand their melanoma research grant program to accelerate the development of the most promising therapies. We also need to support efforts to educate children and their parents about sun protection.
So remember these three important points:
- Wear your sunscreen and protective clothing EVERY day.
- Do frequent self-examinations of your skin and have an annual skin exam by your dermatologist, since finding melanomas early is the most effective treatment of all.
- Support the work of the Melanoma Research Foundation. Tremendous progress is being made; private foundation funding has been critical in helping melanoma research surge forward. We are the building blocks that will be helping future generations as well as yourself, your friends and family as we continue to enjoy the Colorado lifestyle.
What do you need to know about sunscreen? Learn by clicking this link.