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55+ – Insights into the Next Chapter of Life

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of this deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because it can spread to other parts of the body. The good news is that melanoma is also the most preventable type of cancer. By taking steps to protect your skin from the sun, you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma.

One of the most important things you can do to protect your skin is to have an annual skin exam. A skin exam is a quick and easy way to detect any changes in your skin that could be a sign of melanoma. During a skin exam, your doctor will look for any new or changing moles. They will also look for any other changes in your skin, such as freckles, birthmarks, or scars.

If you are over the age of 65, you are at an increased risk of developing melanoma. This is because the skin becomes thinner and more fragile with age, making it more susceptible to sun damage. If you are a senior, it is even more important to have regular skin exams.

However, it is good practice to have a skin exam at any age. Anyone can develop melanoma, regardless of age, skin color, or family history. If you have any concerns about your skin, see your doctor right away. Early detection is key to successful treatment of melanoma.

How to Schedule a Skin Exam

To schedule a skin exam, you can call your doctor’s office or make an appointment with a dermatologist. If you do not have a primary care doctor, you can find a dermatologist in your area by using the American Academy of Dermatology’s Find a Dermatologist tool.

What to Expect During a Skin Exam

During a skin exam, your doctor will first ask you about your medical history and any family history of skin cancer. They will then ask you to remove your shirt and pants so that they can examine your entire body. Your doctor will look for any new or changing moles, as well as any other changes in your skin.

If your doctor finds any suspicious areas, they may take a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from your skin and sent to a lab for testing.

How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The best way to prevent melanoma is to protect your skin from the sun. You can do this by:

  • Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days.
  • Wearing protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses, when you are outdoors.
  • Avoiding tanning beds.

By taking these steps, you can help to reduce your risk of developing melanoma.

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