Eastern Iowa doctor encourages self-checks for Melanoma

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - As the sun comes out and we leave the jackets behind, one eastern Iowa doctor said it is a good time to check your skin.

According to the American Cancer Society, doctors will diagnose more than 90,000 new cases in 2018. That is why Iowa City Dermatology Dr. Amanda Wendel is creating something called “Melanoma Monday.”

“Melanoma Monday is sort of a play on words and alliteration, just to remind people how important regular skin checks are,” Dr. Wendel said. “If you wanted to look at your skin every Monday or at least monthly.”

She said the ABCDE’s of Melanoma is a good method to use.

“A pigmented lesion that is asymmetric has a border irregularity, color variability, diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and e, evolving,” Dr. Wendel said. “If it’s caught early, it is incredibly treatable and curable.”

Kerri Fitch is one of Dr. Wendel’s patients. Last year she noticed something strange during a trip to Florida.

“Putting on my sunscreen, I kind of noticed I had a mole on my back that had changed. It had actually got significantly larger than it had been,” Fitch said.

Doctors removed it, and found it was early stage melanoma. Now, doctors monitor Fitch every few months to check for any changes.

“You’re the biggest advocate for yourself, so definitely kind of keeping on top of different things that are changing with your body or your own skin is very important,” Fitch said. “It’s easier to have it checked and for them to tell you nothing’s wrong with it, then to wait several years and find out that you should have had it checked years before.”

May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Wendel said a few things to remember this spring and summer season is to wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and stay out of the sun during peak hours.