SpaFinder supports melanoma awareness. Our 2006 philanthropic efforts are focused on encouraging an industry-wide educational campaign.
From Ask Susie: Answers to Your Spa Questions by Susie Ellis:
Melanoma awareness saves lives. Melanoma caused the death of my friend and colleague Alex Szekely, the president of the Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta. Just 44, Alex left behind two young sons. When I discovered that early detection and treatment can prevent such a tragedy, I wanted to get involved. In this column, I'm asking the questions, and I hope we'll all learn from the specialists I consulted.
If you're not in the sun a lot, why should you worry about melanoma?
Actually, melanoma (black mole cancer) is most common in people who work indoors and burn because of sun exposure on weekends and vacations. Your risk is greatest if you have light skin, eyes, and hair, or if you have a history of irregularly shaped moles. Melanoma is most common in people under 57, and it's the number one cancer in women 25 to 29. According to dermatologist Robert Friedman, M.D., a clinical associate professor at NYU Medical School, "Recent research indicates there may be a link between melanoma and pancreatic and breast cancer; a personal or family history of any makes you a candidate for another."
I didn't think a cancerous spot was such a big deal. Can't it just be removed?
"If you catch it early and excise it, melanoma is 100 percent curable," says Stephen Krant, M.D., the plastic surgeon who founded the SK Clinic in La Jolla, California. The death rate is going down, but the incidence of melanoma is rising. Dr. Krant advocates training aestheticians to point out questionable moles and suggest clients see their dermatologists. "Barbers, too, can be astute in spotting a lesion on the scalp," Dr. Friedman notes.
What's your best advice to prevent melanoma?
Boycott tanning beds. Wear cover-ups and wide-brimmed hats. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply frequently. Do self-exams (see sidebar) and get an annual head-to-toe check from your dermatologist (more often if you're at high risk). Also, says Anna Pavlick, M.D., an oncologist in New York City, "Have annual eye exams and wear sunglasses; the depletion of the ozone layer has caused an increase in ocular melanoma."
Performing a Self-Examination
What to Look For
Robert Friedman, M.D., and his colleagues Darell Reigel, M.D., and Alfred Kopf, M.D., devised the ABCDE system. See a dermatologist if you find any of these warning signs.
Safety Tips from Spa Enthusiast
Cancer Event Listings
Spas which have hosted events for cancer survivors
Kelly Costa, medical spa consultant, community service and outreach to cancer survivors
Calluna Day Spa's Cancer Recovery program
Replenish Medspa, which has hosted a spa night for melanoma patients.