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Cancer Channel
Reported August 3, 2012

What Do You know about Melanoma?

NEW YORK, NY (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Skin cancers account for 80 percent of all new cancers diagnosed each year. That means 430,000 people will be told they have it in 2012. What you don’t know about skin cancer could end up killing you. First, answer some questions to determine how much you know about melanoma.

Where does skin cancer not occur: Between your toes, on your palms, under your fingernails, or on your lips? Answer: skin cancer can actually happen in all of these places.

Can simply staying in the shade can protect you from getting skin cancer? Answer: yes, shade alone can reduce your exposure to ultraviolet rays by 75 percent! But you should still use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 at all times.

Detecting and diagnosing melanoma can be tricky. The only way is through a biopsy, but even then, dermatologist Jonathan Zippin, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, says it’s not that easy.

"The problem is, this grey area, is a controversial area. A lot of people don’t know how to define it," Dr. Zippin told Ivanhoe.

Once the mole is tested, pathologists agree on just 60 to 75 percent of the cases. That’s why Dr. Zippin has created a new diagnostic test that helps eliminate this "grey" area. "It’s a test that looks for a certain protein in the melanoma or mole," Dr. Zippin said. The protein, called sac, is expressed in all cells.

"It’s not a question of whether it’s there or not, it’s a question of where it is," he said.

When analyzing at test results, doctors look at the red and blue markers. The red in the cell is the sac protein. The blue is the cell nucleus. When the red is next to the blue, the test indicates that the mole is normal. If the red is on top of the blue, the mole is cancerous.

"If it’s in this area it’s bad, and if it’s in this area it’s good. It’s much simpler and much more consistently interpreted," he said.

Doctor Zippin says his protein test is still in the research phase, but doctors can send their biopsies to Cornell and his team will run the test for them. Also, don’t leave your mole health just to your doctor. Experts say you should check your moles each month. To keep track of any changes, go to our site to download a printable body map. MORE

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Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Jonathan Zippin

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

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