TODAY   |  May 13, 2013

Melanoma: How to prevent, detect it

More than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year. Dr. Debra Wattenberg, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, offers her life-saving advice on how you can prevent and detect skin cancer.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now "today's health" this morning we're focusing on skin cancer . more than 3.5 million new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the u.s. this year. dr. deborah wattenberg from new york's mt. sinai medical center , good to see you again.

>> good morning.

>> this is skin cancer awareness month, there are free screenings. how do you find these to get started?

>> you can go to the website and plug in your zip code and find a dermatologist giving out free cancer screenings all over the country, eight a great way to be screened to make sure you are healthy and your skin is not having skin cancer . if you don't look it's hard to know if things are changing. if you become aware of moles that are changing, you can be looking for moles that have asymmetry, changing in order, differences in color, you will be able to determine if a mole is changing.

>> a, b, c, d, e.

>> the a, assembly, b, border, c the color, d, diameter and e is evolving. if you notice a change if to the dermatologist to make sure that mole is a healthy mole.

>> light skinned, red haired people are most at risk but we're seeing an increase in skin cancers with people of color .

>> we are. people of color different ethnicities and races are presenting with different types of skin cancer as well. for them the prognosis is poorer because it's usually a delayed diagnosis. so for people of color you want to be careful on the palms and the soles. if you see something that pops up there, have it evaluated and the mucus membranes or on the nails. those are the areas that people of color tend to get their skin cancers more frequently and more dangerous.

>> there's changes with the fda and manufacturers of skin, of --

>> sun protection .

>> thank you very much. they had to make changes.

>> there have been, so the fda has actually decided to protect the consumer because not all sunscreens are created equal. and so there are some new rulings that you want to be sure to look at the label, both the front and the back of sunscreens this summer, when you're replacing your old sunscreens and you want to be looking for products that are broad spectrum , use one higher than an spf of 30 and make sure your product is water resistant . some of the old claims the sunscreens used to make are not true and gave people a false sense of security.

>> throw out your old if it's from last year should you get rid of it?

>> most sunscreens have a date on them, usually about two years, some older than two years tend to degrade and their active ingredient al ingredient will no longer be effective. if your sunscreen is below 30, it's not broad spectrum , it's not covering uva and uvb and it's mislabeled saying it's sweat zwrn pro sweatproof or water proof they will not be protective against skin cancer . there's a warning level that shows this is just protecting against sunburn.

>> what about sunscreens for kids?

>> they're great, but don't use them on kids under the age of 6 months. 6 months is the cutoff and you shouldn't be using sunscreen on those younger than that.

>> also there is sunblocking clothing.

>> there's lots of new clothing available that can be a great way to protect yourself, the sun clothing are rated by the upf, the ultraviolet protection fabric, they block out the sun's rays. you might think your normal whigt t-shirt or a white long sleeved shirt is protect you, it's not. you want to use products with upf ratings.

>> you can't beat a hat.

>> a hat and sunscreen and sunglasses are the key and make sure you wear your sun screen every day, cloudy or sunny it's important to do that daily.

>> great advice, thank you so much.