Let the Sea Cleanse You
“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
It is important to realize that melanoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer which are prone to become life threatening if not treated early. These forms of cancer can happen even in dark skin individuals and occur in places not directly exposed to the sun. Therefore, as we draw to the end of Melanoma awareness moth and summer months are about to begin (at least here in the Western Hemisphere), I would like to remind everyone of the importance of knowing the risk factors as well as encouraging everyone to have routine check-ups by a dermatologists. After all, melanoma is a curable type of skin cancer if detected early with a 100% success rate.
Some groups of people such as Parkinson’s patients appear to have an increase risk of developing this type of skin cancer.
Although, the exact mechanism for increase risk in PD is not well understood; yet there is a 2- 4 increase risk in those who have Parkinson’s of acquiring melanomas.
Sign’s of Melanoma:
Know your ABCDE’s
A-asymmetry– the mole does not look the SAME on both sides.
B-border– the mole is irregular or scalloped.
C- color– dark color varying from one side to another with varying shades of tan, brown or black, these sometimes can be white, red or blue ( which could be a sign of an even more malignant and aggressive type of cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma).
D-diameter -these are typically the size of a pencil eraser ~ 6mm but can be smaller – (take it from me – I have had several diagnosed some smaller and some much bigger! So know your body and do frequent checks especially best to evaluate moles is in the winter and best to do in your birthday suit at least every six months. (excerpt from Parkinson’s Diva: A Woman’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease)
E- Evolving– any skin mole that appears different from the rest or any lesion that looks like is changing (evolving) in color, shape, or size needs to be looked at immediately by a Dermatologists.
Symptoms of Melanoma:
Usually they are asymptomatic especially in early stages.
Watch out for moles that:
- painful to touch
- bruises that won’t heal
- brown or black streak underneath a toe nail or finger nail
Risk for Melanoma:
- older than 50
- having 50 plus moles, unusual looking moles, and having large moles
- having fair skin (e.g. blond hair, blue eyes)
- sun-sensitive skin (easily burns, rarely tans)
- previous history of using tanning beds or had a previous bad sun burn
- weakened immune system
- family history of melanomas
- personal history of skin cancer especially melanomas
- having PD -especially LRRK2 gene
Tips for Prevention of Melanoma:
If you have had a melanoma you have a 5x greater risk of developing melanoma! so frequent exams at home and at your dermatologists are key to prevention!
- Do not do tanning indoors or outdoors- indoor tanning increases risk of melanoma 75%.
- examine your skin regularly- enlist the help of a loved one for those hard to reach places. make sure you check your feet, palms, soles, toenails, fingernails, genital regions, and your scalp.
- keep eye appointments regularly because melanoma can also affect the eyes.
- get free screening -usually the American Academy of Dermatology gives several FREE screens during the spring throughout the US.
- if you see any of the abc’s during any of these evaluations call your dermatologist’s immediately.
- spend time outdoors when the sun and UV light is less intense before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. (in the US)
- use sun block lotions liberally. Make sure you use proper sunscreen. No natural products because they are not safe to stop damage from UVA & AVB rays.
- wear sunglasses with UV protection.
- Make sure that the sunscreen you choose contains ingredients like Titanium Dioxide, or Zinc Oxide. The SPF 15 or higher is only for UVB protection; A SPF 30 or higher is recommended for those of us who have Parkinson’s because of our increased risk factor. There is no rating to tell us how good something is against UVA.
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you go in the sun. Don’t forget to apply under your make up, feet, between your toes, tip of ears, nose and lips (use lip balm with UV protection) as well as back of legs and neck.
“The association between Parkinson’s disease and melanoma;” International Journal of Cancer; 128, 2251-2260 (2011)