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Aspirin Can Be Helpful in Preventing Melanoma in Older Women

Aspirin Can Be Helpful in Preventing Melanoma in Older Women

Some promising data suggests that aspirin may help prevent melanoma in post-menopausal white women. This conclusion is the result of a recent analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative study.

The data suggest that women among this population who regularly took aspirin were less likely to develop melanoma that non-aspirin users. According to the analysis, the longer the women took aspirin, the more their risk was reduced.

In her study of data from 59,806 post-menopausal white women, Stanford University medical student Christina A. Gamba discovered that among the participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, women who had been taking aspirin regularly less than one year had an approximately 11 percent reduced risk of melanoma compared with non-users of aspirin. Those taking aspirin 1-4 years had 20% lower risk, and those taking it five years or longer had 30% lower risk.

If you are interested in adding aspirin to your daily regimen, be sure to speak to your doctor first.

Melanoma numbers from American Cancer Society

Cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancers, but it causes a majority of skin cancer deaths.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2013:

  • About 76,690 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 45,060 in men and 31,630 in women). The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.
  • About 9,480 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 6,280 men and 3,200 women).

Melanoma is 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma for whites is about 1 in 50; for African Americans, 1 in 1,000; for Hispanics, 1 in 200. The risk for an individual can be affected by a number of different factors, which are described in ““What are the risk factors for melanoma skin cancer?”

Interested in learning if you are at risk for melanoma? Consider scheduling a skin check. Contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.

What’s the Deal With Milia?

Milia. Everyone gets them: those irksome, deep-seated, white bumps on our skin. Harmless, they form when skin cells become trapped just below the surface of the skin rather than exfoliate naturally. The trapped cells become walled off into tiny, bead-like cysts that are typically found on the face, around eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead. They affect people of all ages, ethnicities, and both sexes. They’re so common in newborns that they’re considered normal. In newborns they typically resolve on their own.

Milia can form after something clogs the ducts leading to the skin surface, after an injury, burn, or blistering of the skin by poison ivy, for example. Milia can even occur on mucous membranes such as the inner surface of the cheek or the border of the lips. Also, over time, sun-damaged skin results in a thicker epidermis, making it more difficult to slough off dead epidermal skin cells and thus more likely for milia to form. Yet another reason to limit your lifelong sun exposure

To help prevent milia from forming, regular at-home exfoliation with a gentle exfoliating scrub or facial wash will keep the epidermis thin and smooth. If you have milia-prone skin, wear oil-free sunscreen, and use makeup, moisturizers and skin products labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic. Also, talk to your doctor about prescribing glycolic acid products, retinoid creams or other topical treatments to help cell turnover.

Another way to help prevent milia is to undergo a series of microdermabrasions or glycolic acid peels at your doctor’s office. It might be useful to do this periodically.

Milia can resolve on their own as the thin surface skin covering them is worn away. Often, though, people want a quicker resolution and will opt for removal. Your doctor can do this by gently opening the milia with a sterile lancet or needle, and then applying pressure with a comedone extractor.

Have milia? We can help. Contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.

How to Perform a Self Exam for Early Melanoma Detection

Keeping up with the state of your skin could save your life. Melanoma can often be found early when it is most likely to be cured. Self exams play a critical part in detecting skin changes early. Take time each month to examine yourself from head to toe.

Self exams should be done in a well-lit room, ideally in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to examine areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs. It’s important to examine even your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and back. A friend or family member might assist you, especially for those hard-to-see areas, such as your scalp and back.

What to Look For

Any new or unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking, or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur.

Normal Moles

A normal mole is usually an evenly colored brown, tan, or black spot on the skin. It can be either flat or raised, round or oval. Moles are generally less than about ¼ inch across (about the width of a pencil eraser). A mole can be present at birth, or it can appear during childhood or young adulthood. New moles that appear later in life should be checked by a doctor.

Once a mole has developed, it will usually stay the same size, shape, and color for many years. Some moles may eventually fade away.

Most people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless. But it is important to recognize changes in a mole – its size, shape, or color – that can suggest a melanoma might be developing.

Possible Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma

The most important warning sign for melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin.

The ABCDE rule is a simple, helpful guide to help you identify the typical signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A is for Asymmetry: If you draw a line through this mole, the two halves do not match.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: Any change in size, shape, color, elevation. New symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

Some melanomas do not fit the ABCDE rule. Tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on your skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles. Other skin changes to be aware of:

  1. A sore that does not heal
  2. Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
  3. Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
  4. Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain
  5. Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule

Interested in finding out if you are at risk for melanoma? Contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.

Sun Habits are Hard to Break for Melanoma Patients

The surprising findings of a new study reveal that some people with melanoma do not reduce their sun exposure, though ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a main cause of the disease.

Within two to three years after being diagnosed with melanoma, patients seem to drop their caution and are exposed to at least as much UV radiation as people without the disease, according to a recent study published October 2 online in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

Dr. Luise Idorn, the study’s lead author from Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, concludes that patients with melanoma apparently “relax more when time passes after diagnosis. We think they just regress back to old habits.”

Researchers compared two groups over three summers: 20 people with malignant melanoma and 20 people without the disease. Each kept a sun exposure diary and was equipped with a portable UV-dose-detection device.

During the first summer after their melanoma diagnosis, patients spent fewer days in the sun without sunscreen than people in the cancer-free comparison group, the study showed.

However, the study also revealed that during the second summer the melanoma patients’ daily UV radiation dose rose by 25 percent over their exposure during their first summer post diagnosis. The patients’ UV radiation exposure increased yet again in the third summer. In contrast, the people without melanoma were exposed to similar levels of radiation across all three years.

“I would have thought that a diagnosis of melanoma would change their behavior. This study indicates they may be more cautious, but only the first year after diagnosis,” Idorn said. The researchers noted that their study was small and did not include information on sun exposure before participants developed melanoma.

According to Idorn, there’s a need for more studies, including focus groups of people with melanoma, to figure out how doctors can help patients reduce their time in the sun.

Melanoma rates in the US have been rising, and over 76,000 new melanomas diagnoses are expected in 2013, according to The American Cancer Society. Remember the ABCDE warning signs for melanoma. A = asymmetrical shape, B = irregular borders, C = variable colors, D = diameter larger than 6 mm, E = evolving/changing.

Interested in learning more? Contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today.

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