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The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer

 

Mother applying suntan lotion on son's back at campsite
Mother applying suntan lotion on son’s back at campsite

Summer sun is a lot of fun! But don’t forget, or you will regret, to protect your little ones!

In honor of skin cancer awareness month, we had the chance to catch up with Elizabeth Geddes, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, on tips to keep our kids protected.

Did you know that blistering sunburns from childhood increases your risk of skin cancer later in life?

“I like to tell parents the easiest thing you can do is to make sunscreen part of your daily routine,” said Dr. Geddes.

She suggests that you start at a young age by getting them into a routine of applying sunscreen at least on their faces, and getting them into the habit of wearing protective clothing.

“Take your child shopping for a favorite hat, and grab one for yourself too,” she said. “Not only will it be fun to support your local sports team or bling on a hat, but if you and your child do it together, it will be even more cool.”

Top Tips for Parents

Get baseline skin test. The best thing you can do for yourself and every member of your family is to get a baseline skin exam. “Have a dermatologist exam from head-to-toe, where the sun don’t shine and talk about risk factors,” said Dr. Geddes. Fair skin, family history and a large number of moles are all examples of higher risk factors of skin cancer.

Wear protective gear. We already talked about hats. But you can also protect yourself with rash guards, sun glasses, and other light colored clothing that protects from UVA and UVB rays

Sunscreen, every two hours. Yes, we completely understand that a squirmy kiddo isn’t going to want to be lathered up every two hours. But try your best. Be sure to buy sunscreen that is 30 SPF or above and is labeled broad spectrum.

What to Look For On The Skin

As kids grow, their skin changes. “What you are looking for in a kid is a spot that doesn’t ever seem to heal,” said Dr. Geddes. “Be sure to look for moles that change quickly in size, color or a spot that doesn’t seem to heal on it’s own.”

Dr. Geddes encourages parents to follow the ABCDE’s of skin cancer.

ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer

A – Asymmetry: Be sure your moles are symmetrical. If you draw a line through your mole and the two halves do NOT match, it’s a warning sign for melanoma.

B – Border: a benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. Borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven, scalloped or notched.

C – Color: Most benign moles are all one color. If a mole has a variety of colors, it could be a warning sign of a melanoma.

D – Diameter: Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip.

E – Evolving: Common benign moles look the same over time. Be sure to monitor your moles and be on alert if the mole starts to change in any way.

FREE Skin Cancer Screenings

Memorial Hermann is offering free skin cancer screenings throughout the month of May at several of their locations!

“Hey, it’s free,” said Dr. Geddes. “Our events are put on by doctors who care about our community. We are trained to assess you with your risk stratification, so if you have been thinking about it, but haven’t taken those extra steps in making an appointment, now you can take advantage of a skin check for FREE!”

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-TMC
6400 Fannin St., Suite 2900, Houston, TX 77030

Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
18960 Memorial North
Humble, TX 77338

Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
10905 Memorial Hermann Dr., Suite 108
Pearland, TX 77584

Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital

Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
920 Medical Plaza Dr., Suite 100
Shenandoah, TX 77380

To schedule a screening at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital or Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, please call 713-222-CARE or visit the events and classes page. Once on the page, select Screening from the Event Type drop down menu. Online appointments are available every 15 minutes.

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