Dermatologists warn of deadly form of skin cancer

A rare, deadly form of skin cancer is on the rise in the US, and dermatologists are warning people to take extra care...

Posted: May 16, 2018 3:44 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 3:44 PM

A rare, deadly form of skin cancer is on the rise in the US, and dermatologists are warning people to take extra care of their skin as we head into the summer months.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma is found mostly among older patients, but the American Cancer Society says that there are around 1500 cases reported each year.

"It's devastating because it's usually not picked up until later stages," says Dr. Melanie Palm. She works at Art of Skin in Solana Beach and has treated one case of MCC. "It's more lethal than melanoma. It often has lymph node involvement. It very quickly metastasizes."

Research from the ACS says the disease is often associated with a virus. But it seems to affect older people because they have more, prolonged exposure to the sun.

Doctors are calling attention to MCC and other forms of skin cancer all throughout May during Skin Cancer Awareness Month. They say it's much easier to prevent Merkel Cell and other cancers than it is to treat them.

"We live in San Diego. I don't want people to hide from the sun," says Dr. Palm. "But I think being responsible about it is reasonable."

That includes wearing sunscreen, protective clothing and regular visits to a dermatologist.

"It's something I tell all my friends," says Jen Massara, a skin cancer survivor. "Best case scenario is you're fine, you check that box, you're good to go. Worst case scenario, they find something, and you get it taken care of."

Self-inspections are also helpful. Dr. Palm tells her patients to keep the "ABCDE's" in mind when looking at moles.

"A is asymmetery, if it has an odd shape," she says. "B is Border, is the border irregular on the spot. C is color. Is it dark, pink or have several colors. D is diameter. We don't like anything bigger than a pencil head. And E is evolution, has it grown or changed over time."

As for sunscreen, Dr. Palm says you want to make sure zinc oxide or titanium dioxide have the highest percentage of all the active ingredients. She says those minerals offer the best protection against the sun's rays.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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Canadian high pressure will continue to build into our area over the next few days. This will bring into our area some of the coolest air of the season so far. Some folks will see overnight lows down into the middle to upper 40s.
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