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"If you see something, say something," a warning from the Department of Homeland Security to avoid possible terrorist threats, also applies to skin lesions that, if ignored, could prove fatal.
Susan Manber, a 55-year-old woman from Cortlandt Manor, New York, knows that very well. He credits his daughter's insight for saving her life six years ago when Sarina, who was 13 then, said: "What is it that you have in your nose, mommy?"
"That" was a small white nodule that was on the edge of a nostril. In a few weeks, in this seemingly innocent pimple a small purple core had developed, which prompted her to consult with a dermatologist, who thought it was nothing to worry about, but sent her with a specialist to take it off and perform a biopsy.
The report that arrived on the eve of New Year 2013 could not have been more shocking: a very rare and aggressive type of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.
This is a diagnosis that is only made 2,500 times a year in the United States, and, until recently, people who had it had a life expectancy of five months from the diagnosis.
Manber had to undergo seven surgeries, which included the removal of the left part of the nose (which they later reconstructed with ear cartilage) and the cancerous ganglia of the neck, as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Although it remains three times more deadly than melanoma, treatment with immune agents available since 2016 has improved the prognosis for this type of cancer.
Manber, who was finally able to return to work as a specialist in health-related communications two years ago, now promotes the new simplified campaign of the Skin Cancer Foundation for people to take skin cancer more seriously.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the foundation, it has a new alert message: "The Big See". Deborah S. Sarnoff, president of the foundation, urges that, if we see something new that is transformed, that does not heal, or that does not seem healthy in any part of our skin, we will have it checked as soon as possible.
The damage to DNA caused by UVA and UVB rays begins within a few minutes of exposure. Photo: Pixabay
How to take care of yourself
Although all types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, can be fatal if they are not paid attention for a long time, the most common type that can cause people to die is melanoma, of which, in states Together, 192,000 cases are diagnosed per year and it charges 9,000 lives.
For many years, the “ABCDE” test was used for alarming injuries to alert people to this dangerous disease: A of asymmetry, B of irregular edges, C of color (tan, brown or black), D in diameter (usually greater than six millimeters, and E of evolution (resizing). Perhaps the foundation realized that the alphabet warning was too complex and limiting. "Many melanomas and most types of cancer Non-melanoma-related skin does not fit the ABCDE pattern, ”the foundation recently announced in its publication.
"When we inform people about the warning signs of skin cancer, they often tell us:" Mine didn't look like that. "
The Big See message can alert people to any type of skin cancer, which usually goes unnoticed for several months or years and is ignored thinking that it is "nothing serious."
Each year more than five million types of skin cancer that are not melanoma are diagnosed in the United States, and every hour more than two people die of skin cancer despite the fact that it is a cancer we can all see. No exploration or invasive screening tests are needed, only our eyes or those of a friend or partner who, if you see anything, says so.
The risk of the sunbed.
Sun beds are unacceptable to doctors. The Skin Cancer Foundation reported that its use before age 35 may increase the risk of melanoma by 75%. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified in 2009 the UVA devices (lamps or tanning beds) among the carcinogens.
The “What is that?” Alert complements the new Big See message of the foundation, as well as a talking mirror that has been placed in stores across the country. The reflection of this contains a comedian who tells people about skin cancer.
As Manber said in an interview: “Most people don't realize that only five sunburns can double the chances of developing melanoma. They don't know that one in five people will develop skin cancer. ”
Thanks to his decision to raise awareness about the detection of this disease, Manber has joined with skin cancer specialists to urge people to place a full-length mirror in their home in order to facilitate frequent reviews of the skin. I have discovered that, by turning your back to the full-length mirror and holding a hand mirror, even someone who lives can only have a full body check.
Manber is also very interested in talking about the importance of protecting the skin from harmful sun rays, which can pass through all windows (except the windshield of cars), like clouds and can be reflected in water, sand And the concrete. So being in the shade does not protect you completely. The damage to DNA caused by ultraviolet rays A (UVA) and B (UVB) begins after a few minutes of exposure to the sun, and the body's defenses do not repair all the DNA, which can, over time, give as a result mutations that favor the onset of cancer.
UVB rays cause burns, and UVAs, in addition to causing burns and tanning, age the skin and cause wrinkles.
People with fair skin, blue eyes, freckles or a family history of skin cancer are especially susceptible to the sun's rays that cause cancer. It is advised that they or anyone who spends many hours outdoors during the day use broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours and after swimming. They are also encouraged to wear protective clothing and a hat when they go out during the day, and take special care to avoid exposure to the sun when it is most intense: from 10 a. m. at 4 p. m.
It is important to protect babies and children especially. They should be protected from the sun before six months of age with clothes, caps, blankets and umbrellas; After six months, a sunscreen cream should be added to this. Do not forget to teach them how to wear sunglasses since they are young children.
Avoiding the sun is also dangerous.
Avoiding the sun almost completely can have its own risks. A decrease in the body's ability to produce vitamin D can affect bone health and, according to a study in Sweden, is linked to a small but significant increase in deaths from cardiovascular disease and other conditions that are not Cancer related.