Checking your skin could save your life

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HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A healthy heart, brain and body are a constant concern, but what about your biggest organ, your skin?

38-year-old Domenick Casuccio is a two-time melanoma survivor. When he was 21 years old, he heard a public service announcement on the radio from the American Cancer Society about skin cancer that caused him to take action. He asked his mother to make an appointment with the dermatologist.

News 3's Margaret Kavanagh gets a checkup

He said he made the appointment about concerning mole on his hip, and it turned out to be melanoma.

“I thought he was going to take a little bit of skin, but it was not. It was a huge section of skin, so I’ve got a nine-inch scar on my hip,” said Casuccio.

Then, several years later, he said he found more melanoma behind his ear.

“It was one of the most deadly and dangerous cancers to have,” said Casuccio.

News 3 reporter Margaret Kavanagh interviewed Domenick last summer and learned she herself has an extensive family history of skin cancer.

Over the summer we told you how surgeon Dr. Craig Merrell found several concerning moles on Margaret; now, he removed five of them. The samples have now been sent to get biopsied.

“When there is a family history, you need to be more concerned about moles,” said Dr. Merrell.

Melanoma makes up just one percent of the total amount of skin cancers but accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts said some people are at a higher risk than others, but anyone can get it. Many skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet rays, and often it is from the sun.

Experts report the numbers have been going up and show the number of cases of melanoma increasing in both men and women over the last 40 years.

The CDC said just a few serious sunburns can increase a child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.

Experts say knowing your skin is important; that includes looking for changes in moles or freckles and getting checked out by a doctor.

“When someone is concerned about a mole, they need to have it go evaluated by someone who is trained and experienced in evaluating and, if necessary, taking off moles,” said Dr. Merrell.

Below is information from the CDC:

Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach.

Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand and snow. Indoor tanning (using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan) exposes users to UV radiation.

The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Daylight Saving Time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors in the continental United States. UV rays from sunlight are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America.

CDC recommends easy options for protection from UV radiation:

Click here for more information about skin cancer from the American Cancer Society.

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