Spotting skin cancer - New York News

Spotting skin cancer

Posted: Updated:

Growing up with Auburn hair and freckled skin, Anna Berrier is a natural-born burner.

"I only got sun poisoning once, which I feel is a feat, as a red-headed person."

By high school, when Anna wasn't out in the sun, she was in a tanning bed.

"I wore sunscreen, when someone told me to. But, I spent probably 22 years being irresponsible about having light skin," says the 25-year old.

Which may be how Anna ended up here at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute, with a surgical scar, at 25.

She noticed the spot just before Christmas break.

"It was on the inside of my knee. And it just started to get a little bit luminous. It kind of ballooned up. And I thought, that's weird."

The mole was small, unremarkable.

"I had a weird feeling about it, like, "This shouldn't look like this. I should probably get it off of my body."

Dr. Keith Delman, Anna's surgeon and a melanoma specialist at the Winship Cancer Institute, says the danger of melanoma is not the spot you see - but the spread you don't. Below the skin's surface, melanoma can move quickly and aggressively.

"The earlier you can catch it, the better off you are. Melanoma is one of the only cancers where a millimeter of disease can be fatal," says Dr. Delman

Dr. Delman says regularly check your skin for moles that are growing or changing.

An uneven shape. An irregular border. A mole that was one-color, that's now two.

"It can appear anywhere. It can appear in cases where you do have sun exposure, where you don't have sun exposure."

Anna was diagnosed New Year's Eve: melanoma.

"But I'm perma-positive, so I'm like, "It's fine! Everything is fine," she says.

Dr. Delman removed the cancer, and cut a wide margin around it.

Anna believes sun exposure may have opened the door for skin cancer.

And Delman says there's growing evidence tanning bed use before the age of 25 significantly raises your risk of melanoma.

"Tanning beds are a huge problem. In fact, I spent a large part of my early career going out into schools, education middle schoolers about the risks of tanning beds," says Dr. Delman

"Again this was probably always going to happen, because this is my complexion. But I could have (A) never gone to the tanning bed and (B) just been more conscientious about making sure I was always sunscreened up,” says Berrier

One thing Anna did right? When her mole didn't look right, she went with her gut.

"It's important to know that things that are changing, or you can't explain, are worth getting checked out," Dr. Delman

The doctor recommends you check your skin for changes every month. People who have had a lot of sun exposure, have a lot of moles or have a family history of melanoma should get regular exams from a dermatologist. Plus, although even darker skinned people can get melanoma, if you have light hair, eyes, or skin, like Anna, you are at higher risk for the potentially deadly disease.

  • More Health NewsMore>>

  • DeKalb teen's dream-come-true: new high-tech leg helps her walk effortlessly

    DeKalb teen's dream-come-true: new high-tech leg helps her walk effortlessly

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:57 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:57:22 GMT
    In a lot of ways, Jasmine Holliday is a pretty typical 15-year old, hanging out in her Ellenwood bedroom with her pocket pit bull terrier and best friend Coco.
    In a lot of ways, Jasmine Holliday is a pretty typical 15-year old, hanging out in her Ellenwood bedroom with her pocket pit bull terrier and best friend Coco.
  • FOX Medical Team

    Is it safe to kiss your pet?

    Is it safe to kiss your pet?

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:24 AM EDT2014-07-29 12:24:46 GMT
    If you’re a pet owner, you’ve probably been there. You lean down to say hello and, before you know it, your dog has planted a big wet one right on your mouth.But a UGA Vet says that “kiss” may come with a downside.
    If you’re a pet owner, you’ve probably been there. You lean down to say hello and, before you know it, your dog has planted a big wet one right on your mouth.But a UGA Vet says that “kiss” may come with a downside.
  • Sandy Springs woman struggles with Alzheimer's diagnosis at 55

    Sandy Springs woman struggles with Alzheimer's diagnosis at 55

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:42 AM EDT2014-07-24 12:42:55 GMT
    The Alzheimer’s Association estimates about 200,000 Americans are living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, diagnosed before their 65th birthday.
    The Alzheimer’s Association estimates about 200,000 Americans are living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, diagnosed before their 65th birthday.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices