UPDATED April 20th, 2018
The statistics are staggering. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Skin cancer afflicts more than two million people each year, and rising rapidly. An estimated 40 to 50 percent of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Many Latinas fall into this fair-skinned category. But if you’re like me, you’re saying, “Wait: I have dark hair and eyes and olive skin, so why would I need a full body scan at the dermatologist’s office?” Well, here is the story of my skin-cancer screening:
A few months ago, I had a regularly scheduled physical with my primary care physician. I asked him about a mole that had developed on the right side of my lower abdomen that was not very attractive. He looked at it and told me not to worry. A couple of months later, I was watching a morning show on television, where a dermatologist was describing the signs of skin cancer, and showed some slides of unhealthy birthmarks and moles.
Well, my mole seemed to fit into several at-risk categories: It was larger than a pencil eraser, had changed texture, and was irregularly shaped. Suddenly worried, I scheduled another appointment. This time, my doctor examined the mole again, and gave me a referral to a dermatologist to order a biopsy. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I heard the word “biopsy,” a scary word popped into my head immediately: Cancer.