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Some of you may know that Melanoma is more prevalent in those with Parkinson's Disease. In fact, more people with Melanoma have Parkinson's Disease than those that don't. Melanoma is one of the most aggressive and treatment-resistant cancers, and 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to Melanoma. There are a lot of similarities between the two, such as common age of diagnosis, strong link to family history, higher rates of PD and Melanoma in those with sleep apnea, lack of Vitamin D levels which can increase PD symptoms and reduce patient survival of Melanoma, and so much more.

Understanding risk factors, what to look for, and what to do to lower your risk of Melanoma is so crucial to stay healthy.

Melanoma and PD

Risk factors for Melanoma

  • Over the age of 50 years old.

  • Having a close relative (mom, dad, brother, sister) with Melanoma.

  • Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Melanoma.

  • Caucasian, specifically those with fair skin and red hair.

  • Living at high altitudes or in areas with bright sunlight year-round.

  • Spending a lot of time outside during the midday hours.

  • People with many moles or unusual moles (called dysplastic nevi or atypical moles) have a higher risk of developing Melanoma.

    • Dysplastic nevi or atypical moles are larger moles that have irregular color and shape.

  • Weakened or suppressed immune systems.

  • Using tanning beds, tanning parlors, or sun lamps.

Check your skin

If you are at an increased risk, monthly skin checks are a great idea. Look for any new or changing moles. Look at your nails, between fingers and toes, your back, and your scalp. Ask for help or use a mirror if needed! If you are concerned, take a picture on your phone. This helps track if the mole changes. Use the acronym below to help you guide you during your skin checks.

ABCDEs of Melanoma

A - Asymmetry

One half of the mole does not match the other (one half is larger than the other or a different shape).

B - Border

Melanomas can commonly have uneven or irregular borders.

C - Color

Melanomas can frequently have different shades of brown, black, pink, or even gray, blue, or red. If your mole is not the same color throughout, this is a red flag for Melanoma.

D - Diameter

Moles that are bigger than a pencil eraser (6mm or 1/4 inch) in diameter may be cancerous. However, some melanomas can be smaller, so if you notice a new mole do not discount it just because of the size.

E - Evolution or elevation

Moles that have changed overtime possibly in size (either width or height) or color may be melanoma. Moles can not only grow horizontally, but they can also grow vertically into the deep layers of skin. If you believe a mole has changed even in the slightest, do not wait to show your doctor. You never know how deep a mole can grow before other signs appear.

D and E are the most important ones! If you notice a new large mole, or an old mole that has changed, call your Dermatologist ASAP.

Click here to see a picture demonstrating ABCDE

The “Ugly Duckling”

An "Ugly Duckling" is considered a mole or lesion that is not like other ones on your skin. It could be darker or lighter in color, it could be textured or differently shaped. It could be smaller or larger compared to other moles. If you think you have an "Ugly Duckling" make sure you tell your Dermatologist and/or Primary Care Doctor.

Melanoma and PD

How to reduce your risk of Melanoma

Wear sunscreen

Sunscreen can protect our bodies from the harmful sun rays. It is recommended to wear SPF 30 or higher that is water-resistant. Even on a cloudy day or a day that you are not outside all that often it is important to wear sunscreen! Try looking at the UV index on your weather app before going outdoors. Sunscreen is strongly recommended at a UV index at a 5 or higher.

Apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours. You may need to reapply more often if you are sweating or swimming.

Schedule a yearly appointment with a Dermatologist

Dermatologists can check your skin from head to toe, and remove any moles or blemishes that they consider to be dangerous or possibly dangerous. Yearly appointments can help your Dermatologist get to know your skin so they can pick up on changes more easily.

Wear protective clothings

Wearing long shirts and pants, as well as hats, can help protect your skin from the sun.

Melanoma is too common in those with PD, but your risk can be lowered by doing self exams, seeing a Dermatologist, and being mindful about the sun! Effectiveness of treatment for skin cancer is largely dependent on how early it is caught, so if you do not have a Dermatologist, make this your top priority!



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