Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had a malignant melanoma removed from the back of his left shoulder in 1998, but it was a broken collarbone that benched him that season. His brush with the most deadly of skin cancers turned out well, because athletes get a head-to-toe checkup every year. His doc spotted the signs of melanoma early, when it's almost always 100 percent curable.
So, treat yourself like a star athlete. A new study reveals that regular visits to your primary-care physician reduce your risk of dying from melanoma by an amazing 90 percent, if the doc spots something suspicious and sends you (or you go on your own) to a dermatologist. If treatment is necessary, it'll happen quickly.
Before you spend your summer in the sun (with zinc-oxide sunscreen of SPF 30 or more, please!) give yourself an all-over body check (which alone can cut your risk of dying from melanoma by up to 63 percent). For signs of trouble, look for these ABCDE's: Asymmetry in any mole; Borders that are irregular; more than one Color in a mole; a Diameter of a mole larger than a pencil eraser; and a mole that's Evolving in size, shape, color or elevation, or that's itching, bleeding or scaling.
And always get an annual skin checkup from your doctor. The best practice? A dermatologist should use a pair of magnifying goggles to examine your skin all over; between your toes, in your genital area and your scalp. Getting checked is an easy way to save your life.
© King Features Syndicate