Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get the Skinny on Skin Cancer

One million people. That’s how many Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Of those one million people, 60,000 will be diagnosed with the most serious type of skin cancer – melanoma.

“Melanoma is the least common but the most dangerous and life-threatening of all skin cancers,” says Dr. Geoffrey Moorer, an oncologist on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff. “Early detection and diagnosis are vital for successful treatment.”

“Melanoma is more dangerous than other cancers of the skin because it can spread to vital organs in the body, making treatment much more difficult,” says Dr. Moorer. “Less serious carcinomas (skin cancers) usually do not spread to internal organs.”

Dr. Moorer says that the best way to detect skin cancer at its earliest stages is to get to know your moles and the look of your skin.

“Everyone should closely inspect all moles or spots on the body,” says Dr. Moorer. “Any changes in these moles, such as darkening or irregular colors, uneven borders (normal moles are usually oval or round with defined borders), or moles or spots that are bigger than a pencil eraser, should be reported to your doctor immediately.”

According to Dr. Moorer, other warning signs to watch for when inspecting your moles include itchiness, tenderness or pain; oozing, bleeding or a bump; spread of the pigment to the surrounding skin; and moles that look completely different from your other moles.

Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Dr. Geoffrey Moorer stresses the importance of early detection of skin cancer. His office is located at in the Century Medical Building, 2280 Opitz Blvd., Suite 300, in Woodbridge. Telephone: 703-897-5358.