Washington Health System

155 Wilson Avenue Washington, PA 15301   (724) 225-7000


MaY Resident of the Month

Dr. Lauren Perz

Lauren Perz is a second year family medicine resident at Washington Health System. She is originally from southern Maryland. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, PA. Dr. Perz attended Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, PA. She enjoys running, cooking/baking, and spending time with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Luna. They are preparing to welcome their first child. When she completes her residency she plans on working exclusively in the outpatient setting.

Melanoma and Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. Likely we know someone affected by skin cancer. There are three different types, which include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer due to its ability to spread. It accounts for 5-6% of all skin cancer diagnoses but 75% of the deaths due to skin cancer.

There are many different risk factors for skin cancer/melanoma. Some of these are things that can be modified but most are those that cannot be modified. Risk factors that can be modified are sun/UV exposure. This includes those who have had multiple/repeated sunburns in childhood/adolescence and the use of tanning beds prior to the age of 35. Risk factors that cannot be modified include melanoma that runs in family due to genetic abnormalities, moles that do not look normal, having more than 25 moles, those that have fair skin, those that have either red or blond hair, those that have many freckles, those that have light eye color (blue, green, or hazel), anyone with history of cancer with radiation exposure, and if on immunosuppression.

There is an ABCDE rule for melanoma when examining a mole. A is for asymmetry. B is for an irregular border. C is for color variation, such as if there are different colors within a mole or if a mole is very dark. D is for diameter >6 mm. E is for evolution/enlargement which includes changes in color, size, shape, bleeding, or crusting. If you notice any of these changes to one or more of your moles, you should make an appointment to see your PCP so that they can complete a skin examination. If they are concerned for skin cancer, they will likely refer you to a dermatologist for further skin examination and possible treatment.

References:

Gellar, A. C., RN, MPH, & Sweater, S., MD. (2017, January 25). Screening and early detection of melanoma. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/screening-and-early-detection-of-melanoma?source=search_result&search=skin%20cancer&selectedTitle=3~150

Screening for Skin Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. (2009). Annals of Internal Medicine, 150(3), 188-193.


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