Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
April 16, 1999


May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and Emory University's Winship Cancer Center, along with Emory Hospitals, The Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Center and the Emory Department of Dermatology, are offering skin cancer screenings to the public.

The screenings are part of a national campaign to encourage early detection and to teach prevention of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in this country. About one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.

The screenings are free but appointments are required.

 May 18
Crawford Long Hospital
Candler Building C, Suite 563
11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
 May 27
The Emory Clinic-Bldg A
Dermatology Clinic
1365 Clifton Rd.
10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Please call Emory HealthConnection for appointments at either location, (404) 778-7777.



Sun-Sense Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

Avoid the sun during its most intense hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Use sunscreen when you have to go out during those high sun-intensity hours. Choose sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Experts suggest using at least 15 SPF, and no more than a 30 SPF. Do not use sunscreen on babies younger than six months, because their livers may not be able to metabolize the chemicals that are absorbed by the sun. Keep them covered up.

Cover up! Wear a hat that protects your scalp, face, ears and neck. Wear sunglasses too; eyelids can develop skin cancer and UV rays can be damaging to the eyes.

Needless to say, long sleeves and long pants or skirts are also recommended. Tightly woven cloth is best; if you can see through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Check your skin regularly, and see a doctor if you notice any changes.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma starts in melanocytes, or mole cells, the cells that produce the dark protective pigment in our skin called melanin. Normally melanin acts as partial protection against the sun. Melanoma cells usually continue to produce melanin, which accounts for the cancers appearing in mixed shades of tan, brown and black. However, some melanomas may contain little or no pigment. Left untreated, melanoma usually metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Melanoma may appear without warning but it may also begin in or near a mole or other dark spot in the skin. It is important to know the location and appearance of moles on our bodies and to notice any changes.

What can I do to find skin cancer early?

Finding skin cancer early when it is easier to treat is dependent on regular skin self-examinations. By being familiar with moles, freckles and beauty marks on your own skin, you may be able to detect skin cancer early. If detected early, it can be easily treated. The American Academy of Dermatology has devised a method of determining if a mole or mark on your skin may be melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. This method is called the "ABCD's of Melanoma."

A) Asymmetry: Most early melanomas are asymmetrical; that is, one half does not match the other half.

B) Border: The borders of common melanomas are often uneven and many have poorly defined borders.

C) Color: Common moles are usually just one color; melanomas often vary in color, and may include shades of tan, brown, black, and sometimes white, red or blue.

D) Diameter: Melanomas tend to grow larger than common moles, and are usually larger than 6mm or 1/4 inch in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser).

Once you know what to look for, you need to know how to look for melanoma and other skin cancers. For a good self-exam, you'll need to use a mirror and stand in a room with good lighting. Check your face and head, including your scalp. Look at your hands, including under your nails. In a full-length mirror, examine your elbows, arms and underarms. Look at your neck, chest and torso. Women should also check under your breasts. With a hand mirror, look at your neck, shoulders, upper arms, back, buttocks and legs. Sitting down, check your legs and feet, including soles, heels and nails. Use the hand mirror to check genitals. You should perform a self-exam once every three months, and have a yearly skin exam by your doctor. If you notice any changes or anything unusual, call your doctor. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist who is trained to detect skin cancer, call Emory HealthConnection at (404) 778-7777. You can also check on the web site of the Emory Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Center at or the web site of the American Academy of Dermatology at

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, call Health Sciences Communication's Office at 404-727-5686, or send e-mail to

Copyright ©Emory University, 1999. All Rights Reserved.