According to a new study, counties that have more dermatologists can also boast lower rates of death from melanoma, or skin cancer. Basically, the proof is in the pudding on this one: going to the dermatologist could very well save your life. That statement may be a bit dramatic, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.
If you have a cough that you just can’t shake you would probably visit a general practitioner, but if a strange mole appears would you visit a dermatoligst? If the answer is no, maybe you should reconsider, as this could be a sign of melanoma.
Since melanomas develop on the skin where they can be seen, there is a good chance of catching them early. However, feeling anxious or alarmed about every mole is a waste of time, as many skin blemishes are benign. Now you might be wondering: when should I stand up and take notice?
A normal mole is generally colored evenly (brown, black or tan), and are less than 6 mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser). They can be flat or raised, and generally do not change over time. Also, it is important to take into account some of the risk factors for skin cancer, which include exposure to UV light, family history and fair skin. Find out more melanoma risk factors here.
Still not sure if you need to visit a dermatologist? Just follow the ABCD rule of melanoma skin Cancer:
- A is for Asymmetry: A mole that has an irregular shape, or two different looking halves.
- B is for Border: Irregular, blurred, rough or notched edges may be signs of melanoma.
- C is for Color: Most moles are an even color – brown, black, tan or even pink – but changes in the shade or distribution of color throughout the mole can signal melanoma.
- D is for Diameter: Moles larger than ¼ inch (6 mm, the size of a pencil eraser) across may be suspect, although some melanoma cancers may be smaller than this.
If you have fair skin and/or a family history of skin cancer, then you really should be visiting the dermatologist once a year, if not more often. A person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent greater chance of developing the skin cancer.
Again, a trip to the dermotologist can be quick, easy and painless. Also, a preventative visit to the dermotologist is a part of many health insurance plans, so it could also be free. Just check with your provider first, and start making visits to the dermotologist part of your yearly health regimen.