Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that, if allowed to spread, is highly dangerous. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancer cases, but it causes most skin cancer deaths. Over the past several decades, the number of cases of melanoma diagnosed in the United States have been increasing. Although survival from this form of skin cancer is improving, the death rate is still increasing.
The screening test for melanoma is a simple, relatively quick, noninvasive, and inexpensive visual examination of the skin by a trained health care professional. If there is any question about any lesion seen on this visual examination, then a skin biopsy is performed. During a biopsy or during a mole removal, a piece of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.
Prevention of melanoma needs to start in childhood and involves avoiding exposure to sunlight. This is achieved by wearing a hat, covering up with a long-sleeved shirt or similar clothing, and wearing sunscreen on exposed areas. The Australians developed the catchy expression "Slip Slap Slop" for slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, and slop on sunscreen.
Although melanoma is the type of skin cancer most people are concerned about, other types of skin cancer can be equally as devastating. Again, a relatively simple visual inspection, performed on a regular basis, should be performed as part of an annual checkup. This is particularly important for people who spend a long time in the open air, or for anyone with a past history of skin cancers, or those with a strong family history.