By Dr. Ali Hendi
THE SKIN IS THE largest organ of the body.
It’s the first line of defense against pathogens
and protects the inner organs of the body.
This is why skin protection is a very
important part of everyday health. Two million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with
non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) every
year. There are 76,000 new cases of melanoma each year, which results in 10,000
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun
or tanning devices is the most prominent risk
factor for these cancers. Up to 90 percent of
all NMSCs are caused by prolonged exposure
to harmful UV rays. Having exposure to tanning beds in one’s youth increases the chances
of developing melanoma by 75 percent, and
indoor tanners have an increased risk of all
People of all ethnic groups and skin types
are at risk. A person with a parent or sibling
diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent
greater chance of developing the disease than
someone without a family history of melanoma. People with fair skin, light eyes and
light hair are at higher risk of developing skin
cancer. However, although infrequent, skin
cancer is most deadly for African-American,
Latino and Asian populations due to a low
What can be done to prevent and/or detect
skin cancer? Have yearly skin checks by a dermatologist, especially if you have any of the risk
factors listed above. Also, use a sunscreen, lotion
or cream with an SPF of 15 or higher daily.
Monitoring your body for any suspicious
Protect your skin,
protect your life
lesions should be done monthly. Take note of
anything that is changing, growing, scaly in
appearance or bleeding.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell
carcinoma, the two most common forms of
skin cancer, can vary in appearance: They can
present as an open sore that bleeds, oozes or
crusts and remains open for weeks; a shiny
bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent
and is often pink, red or white; a reddish
patch or irritated area that sometimes crusts
and may itch or hurt; a pink growth with an
elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation; or a white, yellow or waxy scar-like area,
often with poorly defined borders.
Remember the ABCDE rule for any mole
that you suspect may be melanoma. Any mole
that is Asymmetrical in appearance; has irregular Borders, Color that is not consistent and
Diameter that is increasing; and is Evolving
in character or spreading should be evaluated
by a dermatologist.
If you have been diagnosed with skin
cancer it is also important to notify other
health-care professionals (such as your eye
doctor or urologist) of the increased risk for
melanoma. Your hairdresser should also be
notified so any changes in the scalp can be
brought to your attention.
With the rates of skin cancer increasing
each year, early detection and daily prevention on your part are the best defense. C
Dr. Ali Hendi is a board-certified dermatologist and skin cancer specialist in Washington,
D.C. ( mohssurgerymd.com).
THIRTY-SIX MILLION Americans—
about 12 percent of the population—
suffer from migraine headaches. Migraine is not the normal headache you
may have experienced, but instead is a
different disorder with unique symptoms
and different treatments.
The American Migraine Foundation
(AMF) reminds us of these migraine
facts as part of this year’s initiative:
• Migraine is three times more common in women than men.
•Although most people with
migraine have one or two attacks per
month, 3 percent of the population has
chronic migraine headaches with at
least 15 days of headache each month
for at least six months.
• Migraine costs the U.S. more than
$20 billion each year, attributed to direct
medical expenses and missed work or
• Migraine is listed by the World
Health Organization as one of the 20 most
disabling medical illnesses on the planet.
There is no cure for migraine.
Treatments are aimed at reducing headache frequency and stopping individual
headaches when they occur, and can
include medications, lifestyle changes,
trigger avoidance, behavioral therapy or
How do you know if you’re experiencing migraine? If you answer yes to at
least two of the questions below, don’t
tough it out. You should see a doctor.
• Is your head pain severe, hard to
endure, maybe even unbearable?
• Is the head pain a throbbing sensation, often on one side of your head?
• When having head pain, do you
experience nausea and vomiting as well
as sensitivity to light, noise and odors?
• Does your head pain worsen with
physical activity or any type of movement?
• Is your head pain severe enough
to cause you to miss work or other activities, or to affect your performance when
doing those things?
• Does your head pain last longer
than four hours, perhaps for even several days?
For more information, visit the AMF
online at americanmigrainefoundation.
for your health