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Melanoma Awareness Month: Taking a look at an aggressive cancer

Updated: Thursday, May 8 2014, 06:15 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
Staying out of the sun is easier said than done, especially with the  warm temperatures, but doctors say it's one of many ways to prevent a deadly skin cancer.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month and healthcare professionals continue to spread the word on one of the deadliest types of skin cancer. It's one that affects 70,000 each year.
"Melanoma can spread, it's a very aggressive cancer," said Dr. Dennis Meisner from UPMC Cancer Center.
Blistering sunburns and fair skin are the biggest risk factors.
"You want to do everything you can to minimize the sun exposure," Meisner said. "Use the sun blocks, wear your hats, try not to go out where the sun is most direct on you and look for signs of a mole, a black mole that changes, bleeds, ulcerates."
Doctors say it's important to have somebody look at your  back to check for these kinds of moles.
"You can get melanomas in areas that have no sunshine," Meisner said. "Sometimes people are just predisposed to get melanoma unrelated to sun exposure."
For the cases that are related to excessive sun exposure, doctors recommend alternatives to sun tanning like lotions that tan the skin or spray tanning
"I've worked here for a few years now I've seen people use the spray tan and it was a lot more beneficial," said tanning client Mackenzie Reinacher.
Owner of Endless Summer Tanning Salon Nicole Taylor said while her business is booming with clients who opt to get spray tans, she also gets clients who use tanning beds for vitamin D deficiency.
"The girls that come in here I definitely don't say you need to come every day," Taylor said. "You know what I mean? Either they come for a sun tan or a prescription for vitamin D, or for their skin tone just to even out. A lot people don't come in here just to get a full body tan."
So what can you do to decrease your chances of developing melanoma? Doctors say the first thing you should do aside from avoid too much sunlight is to see your dermatologist for any odd spots or moles on your body.

Melanoma Awareness Month: Taking a look at an aggressive cancer


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