June 7, 2011

Doctors: Keep an eye on those moles

Dr. John Mallen, a Salem-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, points to some suspicious skin blemishes on the hand of James Garvey of Londonderry, Garvey took advantage of a recent free skin cancer screening at the Nutfield Professional Building.


Dr. Mallen advised James Garvey to have these "precancerous"
lesions checked out by a dermatologist.
DERRY -- You’ve probably heard that skin cancer — or melanoma — is the most deadly form of cancer, although you may not have considered why that is.
Doctors say it’s because most of the time people don’t recognize skin cancer for what it is. Often skin cancer is easy to mistake for a mole or it’s hidden on some patch of skin that’s difficult to see for yourself, unless you have the headspinning capabilities of an owl.
That’s why James Garvey of Londonderry decided to take advantage of a recent free skin cancer screening at Nutfield Medical Center.
“I try to use sunscreen when I’m going to be out in the sun, but I’ve got this light skin and freckles, and blue eyes. I know my skin is susceptible to burning,” said Garvey, who said when he heard about the screening he decided to come in. He had a few spots on his hands that had him worried.
Dr. John Mallen, a plastic and reconstruc­
tive surgeon with a practice in Salem, took a closer look. 

“These look like pre-skin cancer,” said Mallen. “They’re red and scaly. You should probably have these looked at by a seasoned dermatologist.” 
Although Mallen didn’t believe Garvey’s lesions were anything to worry about right now, he felt that given Garvey’s fair skin and ruddy complexion, he should be in the habit of slathering on the sunscreen every two hours, any good lotion with moisturizer. 
“Honestly, it’s not so much about the product you use, but the frequency with which you apply it, and for most people, they just don’t apply it often enough,” Mallen said. 
Mallen asked Garvey to show him his back, which looked fine. 
“Often people will have suspicious moles or marks in places they can’t readily see. I usually recommend that, especially if you’re married, have your partner check on your moles every birthday, to see if there are any changes in size or appearance, or ulcerations. It’s the best way,” Mallen said. 
According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, Garvey, 57, is in the highest risk group when it comes to annual skin cancer diagnoses — the majority of those who discover skin cancer each year are white males over the age of 50. Currently, 1 in 39 men will be diagnosed annually with skin cancer; for women, it’s 1 in every 58. 
Prevention is always the best approach, said Mallen. Unfortunately, the sun is always shining, even when you can’t feel it, and sunburns often happen inadvertently. “I was out on my boat last weekend, and I normally use sunscreen. But it was chilly, so I had a long-sleeved shirt on when I went out. Then it got hotter, so I took off the shirt, but I forgot to use sunscreen,” said Garvey, holding out both of his arms which were bright pink, from his elbows to his wrists. “I have to be more careful.” 
Another round of free skin cancer screening will be held at the Nutfield Medical Center, 44 Birch St., in Derry on June 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. and June 7 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Adults and children are welcome. Preregistration is required. For more information or to register, contact Consult A Nurse at 1-877-642-2362 or visit parklandmedicalcenter. com. 

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