Perhaps, the foundation realized, the alphabet warning was too complex and limiting. “Many melanomas and most nonmelanoma skin cancers don’t fall under the ABCDE pattern,” the foundation reported recently in its journal. “When we educate people about the warning signs of skin cancer, we often hear from them, ‘Mine didn’t look like that.’”
The Big See message can alert people to all forms of skin cancer, often unnoticed for many months or years and dismissed as “no big deal.” Last year, for example, I had a small sore on my leg that never healed, but waited six months to find out it was a basal cell carcinoma that required surgical removal.
More than five million nonmelanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in America, and every hour more than two people die from skin cancer even though it is the cancer everyone can see. No scans or special or invasive detection tests are required, just your eyes or those of a friend or companion who, if they see something, should say something.
Complementing the foundation’s new The Big See message is a “What’s that?” alert and a talking mirror being placed in retail locations nationwide in which a lively comedian tells people about skin cancer.
As Ms. Manber said in an interview, “Most people don’t realize that just five sunburns can double your chances of developing melanoma. They don’t know that one person in five will get skin cancer.” Now determined to raise awareness about detecting this disease, she joins skin cancer specialists in urging people to install a full-length mirror in their home to facilitate frequent skin checks. By standing with your back to the full-length mirror and holding a hand mirror, I’ve found that even a person who lives alone can do a full body self-exam.
Ms. Manber is equally passionate about the importance of protecting one’s skin from the damaging rays of sunlight, which can penetrate all windows (except windshield glass in cars), pass through cloud cover and be reflected by water, sand and concrete. Thus, shade is not completely protective. The damage to DNA caused by ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays starts within minutes of sun exposure, and the body’s immune defenses do not repair all of it, which can result in cancer-causing mutations over time.
UVB causes sunburn, and UVA, in addition to causing sunburn and tanning, ages and wrinkles the skin, creating what my husband called elephant hide.
This content was originally published here.