RENO, NV (KOLO) At the Nevada Center for Dermatology, you'll see staff wearing colorful t-shirts throughout the month of May,
Why? May is Melanoma Awareness Month.
The tie-dye shirts are in honor of reggae singer Bob Marley, who died from this form of skin cancer.
“Poor Bob Marley,” says Dr. Bille Casse, a dermatologist with the Nevada Center for Dermatology. “He should not have died at the age of 35. So he was actually diagnosed with a melanoma on his toe, which they thought was a soccer injury. A recurrent soccer injury around the age of 31, I believe. And finally he was over in Europe and somebody said, you have to go to the doctor and they diagnosed Malignant Melanoma,” says Dr. Casse.
Much has changed in the detection and treatment of melanoma since Marley's 1981 death.
In 2001 Dermascopes began to appear in dermatologists' offices. It is an invaluable tool in detecting melanoma in its earliest stages.
”It looks completely different. Because again, it is magnified,” says Ashely Vazeen, an APN with the center. “I've also picked up on a one-millimeter melanoma because of this,” she says.
If melanoma is detected, it can be removed. Also, new analysis of the biopsy can help determine what your chances are of developing even more skin cancers.
“High-risk tumors, then you know you need to screen those patients more often,” says Dr. Cindy Lamerson, MD, with Nevada Center for Dermatology. “And maybe do more examinations like PET Scans or chest Xrays or blood work, and stuff like that,” says Dr. Lamerson.
Those at risk for skin cancer include:
Patients with a personal or family history
Exposure to ultraviolet light--like that which comes from the sun.
Being diagnosed with Melanoma is never good news. One patient, Stephanie Tyler, says there is power in knowledge, however, and after getting her treatment, she says the onus is on her to stay on top of the disease.
“So I have a responsibility to myself to watch my skin and then bring it to the attention of a professional,” she says.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019