NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Did you know that Monday is “Melanoma Monday?” Sounds cute, right?
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, there are new treatments and better ways to detect it early.
“I do have a lot of memories of being sunburned as a child and apparently that could have long-lasting effects,” melanoma patient Anastasia Shuster said.
That sun exposure while Shuster was growing up in Israel did come back to get her in the form of melanoma in a surprising place, the back of her ear.
“I had no idea I had them on the back of my ear,” Shuster said.
Luckily, it was a very early melanoma, so a newer variation on Mohs skin cancer surgery removed just a piece of her ear.
Melanoma, which has been on the increase for some years now, has a number of risk factors, including fair skin, light-colored eyes, red hair, and tanning bed use.
But Shuster has another risk factor for melanoma — moles. So, she is regularly screened. Dermatologists now have dermatoscopes that use polarized light to peer into deeper layers of a mole. Even more sophisticated is a digital dermatoscope and the ultimate, something called the Vectra 360.
“Total body photography is something that is really helping. The ability to digitize these photos is a game changer,” said Dr. Richard Torbek of the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine. “You’re able to find something that takes a high-quality photo, can zoom in, can tag that spot.”
That’s especially valuable for people with lots of moles, because it can be difficult for a doctor to remember the exact appearance or location of dozens of moles.
Mount Sinai’s Waldman Melanoma Center has one of only two Vectra 3D scanners in the New York area. Even without that, it’s important to get a skin check once a year because skin cancer is on the rise. However, it is usually curable if caught early.