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Are They Just Moles, or Melanoma?

May 17. 2023

By Terri Russell

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Sharyn Juarez started having trouble with melanoma in 2009.

That’s when a dermatologist noticed a mole on her leg.

“It was a mole I had had since childhood,” says Juarez. “And it had changed to black. I hadn’t thought anything of it. He said we need to take that off.”

For years she was melanoma free. Then, last May, and this May, dermatologists have had to remove two more lesions. She says at first glance they look like regular moles.

Working in her favor is the fact that the disease had not advanced.

“Mine have been all in ‘situ’, which is where you want them to be. Very early,” says Juarez.

She says she must have her skin checked every three months to help detect melanoma in its earliest and most curable stages.

Her case represents what studies are showing these days. The rate of melanoma is on the increase but not its deadliest form.

“Significant increase in melanoma cases,” says Dr. Cindy Lamerson, a dermatologist with Nevada Center for Dermatology. “However, what is good is that a lot of cases of melanoma that are increasing are the very early melanomas.”

Dr. Lamerson says prevention is the key. Wear sunscreen, even in the winter, and protective clothing during the summer. Stay out of tanning booths, she says, as that can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 70%.

She’s so passionate about preventing melanoma, her staff wears t-shirts every May to bring awareness to the deadly skin cancer.

Risk factors for melanoma include a personal history of melanoma, or a family history, fair skin, or moles. Dr. Lamerson says not all patients need to be screened yearly for melanoma, but if there are risk factors, they are encouraged to do so.

View the article on KOLO News 8

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