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Melanoma Monday 2020: Prevention and detection during COVID-19

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by Sam Economou, MD

Today, May 4th, is Melanoma Monday.  Normally, there are multiple skin screening events offered throughout the nation. This year, that isn’t possible. Instead, today you should examine yourself and/or your partner head to toe, looking for any unusual skin lesions. Hopefully soon, Dermatology offices will open again for skin exams, but many do offer telemedicine visits for patients until things normalize a bit.

In addition, as weather warms and we continue to spend more time outside, make sure you are applying sun protection, using an SPF of 30-50 and reapplying every two hours or when coming out of the water.

Recently, the National Cancer Institute released data showing that from 2013-2016, deaths from melanoma dropped 17.9%.  That is the largest drop seen over four years for any type of cancer. That is mainly because immunotherapy and targeted therapy used to treat metastatic melanoma have proven to be effective. The statistics will only improve over time as evolving new combinations of drugs are used more extensively. We have more treatments to offer melanoma patients today than ever before and are encouraged by the data emerging—it is working.

There is reason for hope for melanoma patients, but more emphasis needs to be placed on prevention of melanoma. This includes avoiding tanning booths, using sunblock, limiting exposure during peak sun strength hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and continuing efforts at self-exam and regular Dermatologic exams.

Hopefully, you will never need our services to surgically treat a melanoma.  But we are here for you and will make sure you are properly cared for.

Dr. Economou, a native of Austin, Minnesota, is board certified in Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. He is skilled in all aspects of plastic and reconstructive surgery, and has a special interest in breast surgery of all types, body contour surgery and facial aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Economou is a principal in Plastic Surgery Consultants. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He has also published professional articles regarding plastic and reconstructive surgery in medical journals and presented scientific papers at professional associations.