Cancerous Moles –, May 23, 2008
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Cancerous Moles –, May 23, 2008

Why That Mole on Your Skin Might Be Cancer

By Staff

Jennifer Baun is reminded of her bout with skin cancer every time she looks in the mirror.  Baun’s battle began with a tiny freckle, but the mark grew. After an operation, it’s now a scar at the top of her forehead.

“I didn’t know it would be like a 6-hour procedure,” she says of the treatment. She also didn’t know the recovery would be so drastic.

“It was about 10 stitches,” she describes, pointing to the healed wound.

It’s a scene Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto dermatologist, has seen time and time again. The Canadian Cancer Society predicts that 80,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Of those, 900 will die.

She says it’s because people don’t realize your skin needs to be protected year-round.

“The message we’re trying to get out is basically protect your skin. Every day. Winter, spring, summer, fall, daily,” she explains. And unlike the famous hair cream, a little dab won’t ‘do you.’

“People grossly underestimate the amount they should put on. Basically a shot glass full of sun block is required to cover the whole body,” Dr. Kellett outlines.

In fact, because we don’t use enough sunscreen, doctors are now recommending we stick to a higher SPF.

Both Dr. Kellett and Baun were at an event at Nathan Phillips Square Friday that had Torontonians showing some skin.

But it wasn’t anything racy: The Canadian Dermatology Association and the Canadian Cancer Society set up their tent for a few hours around noon to screen residents for skin cancer.

As the weather heats up and more people spend more time outside, sun exposure is a huge concern. The groups’ main message? Safe exposure.

That means sunscreen, long sleeves, and wide-brimmed hats to name a few.

That hat might be your best defense: a recent study found that melanoma that pops up on your neck or scalp is the most dangerous kind.

Malignant melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can be caused by the harmful rays of the sun. One reason it’s believed to be more dangerous in those areas is because lesions on the scalp and neck become thicker and are more likely to spread.

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