Woman's melanoma case reinforces importance of using sunscreen
Women who never used sunscreen when they were younger are increasingly visiting skincare specialists to have scars and other damage caused by the sun put right. New York Times-owned website NJ.com has this week published the cautionary tale of 52-year-old Maria Conda, whose fair skin, inherited from her Irish ancestors, led her to discover that she had a melanoma on her leg as a result of many years spending time in the sun without using a sunscreen. As a nurse, when Conda was alerted to the presence of a mark on her leg, she was happy to undergo a biopsy.And when this found abnormal cells which were responsible for the unusual skin blemish, she visited a dermatologist, who treated her for the next 10 years, including removing some moles and skin tags. But when, in spring 2010, she discovered a spot on Conda's back which, on further investigation, was found to be melanoma – the sometimes fatal form of skin cancer – it was the start of a sequence of events which led to her being put on a programme of regular treatment by a dermatologist. And in the light of her case, Dr Janice M Mehnert, medical oncologist in the Melanoma and Soft Tissue Oncology Program at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey has warned that many people may be harbouring skin cancer without knowing it. But by covering up, using a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor, and minimising their exposure to ultra-violet light, many can cut their risk of further damaging their skin, said Dr Mehnert.