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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, we discuss why melanoma is an important health issue. We also discuss why patients of all skin types need a skin check and sunscreen.

MD Newsline:

Can you explain why melanoma is an important health issue?

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Dr. Edidiong Kaminska:

“Melanoma is a skin cancer that comes from melanocytes. Those cells go awry and cause significant changes. If left untreated, melanoma can metastasize inside the body and affect many organs, including bone, lung, liver, and even the gastrointestinal tract. And that results in significant mortality. So, if we can spot melanoma early, then we can prevent morbidity and mortality for our patients.”

 

MD Newsline:

Is there anything else you would like to speak on that we have not already covered?

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Dr. Edidiong Kaminska:

“All patients, regardless of skin tone or skin type, should get at least a baseline skin check to make sure that they don’t have any atypical lesions. Part of that skin check involves checking the scalp, genitalia, hands, and feet, including between the toes and the bottom of the feet. It’s super important to check these areas because we don’t want to miss anything.

If, as a primary care doctor, you’re uncomfortable doing a full skin check, please refer your patients to a dermatologist so that they can get the care that they need and make sure that everything is ok, especially in patients with a history of excessive sun exposure and/or a family history of skin cancer. I have seen melanoma in all skin types. Melanoma can happen in anyone, white, brown, or Black, so a skin check is important for everyone.

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Also, all patients should wear sunscreen, no matter their skin type. It preserves skin health and is protective against skin cancer and aging. Lastly, SPF 30 or more is important to prevent skin cancer. In brown skin types, the SPF of the skin is not greater than 4. So that’s not enough. A lot of patients of color think, ‘Oh, I’m brown, or I’m dark brown, so I have my sun protection.’ Well, unfortunately, an SPF of 4 is not enough to prevent skin cancer.”

 

Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.