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Look out for skin cancer by seeing

NEW YORK • Ms Susan Manber, a 55-year-old from New York, credits her astute daughter with having saved her life nearly six years ago when Sarina, then 13, remarked: "Mum, what's that thing on your nose?"

That "thing" was a tiny white nodule on the rim of one nostril which Ms Manber thought was a pimple. It prompted her to see a dermatologist, who sent her to a specialist to have it removed and biopsied.

She was shocked to learn in late 2013 that she suffered from a very rare and aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.

Ms Manber, who endured seven operations and was finally able to return to work as a health communications specialist two years ago, now advocates for the Skin Cancer Foundation's new, simplified campaign to get people to take skin cancer more seriously.

In honour of the foundation's 40th anniversary, it has a new alert message: "The Big See" – "see" as in look, and "C" as in cancer. If you see something anywhere on your skin that is new, changing, not healing or does not seem right to you, the foundation's president, Dr Deborah Sarnoff, urges you to get it checked out as soon as possible.

While all forms of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, can be fatal if ignored long enough, the most common life-threatening form is melanoma, which is diagnosed 192,000 times a year in the United States and claims 9,000 lives.

The Big See message can alert people to all forms of skin cancer, often unnoticed for many months or years and dismissed as "no big deal".

More than five million nonmelanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in America and every hour, more than two people die from skin cancer even though it is the cancer everyone can see.

No scans or special or invasive detection tests are required, just your eyes or those of a friend or companion who, if they see something, should say something.

Ms Manber is equally passionate about the importance of protecting one's skin from the damaging rays of sunlight, which can penetrate all windows (except windshield glass in cars), pass through cloud cover and be reflected by water, sand and concrete.

Thus, shade is not completely protective. The damage to DNA caused by ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays starts within minutes of sun exposure, and the body's immune defences do not repair all of it, which can result in cancer-causing mutations over time. UVB causes sunburn and UVA, in addition to causing suRead More – Source

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