Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had a malignant melanoma removed from the back of his left shoulder in 1998, but it was a broken collarbone that benched him that season. His brush with the most deadly of skin cancers turned out well, because athletes get a head-to-toe checkup every year. His doc spotted the signs of melanoma early, when it's almost 100 percent curable.
So, treat yourself like a star athlete. A new study reveals that regular visits to your primary-care physician reduce your risk of dying from melanoma by an amazing 90 percent, if the doc spots something suspicious and sends you (or you go on your own) to a dermatologist. If treatment is necessary, it'll happen quickly.
Before you spend your summer in the sun (with zinc-oxide sunscreen of SPF 30 or more) give yourself an all-over body check (which alone can cut your risk of dying from melanoma by up to 63 percent). For signs of trouble, look for these ABCDE's: Asymmetry in any mole; Borders that are irregular; more than one Color in a mole; a Diameter of a mole larger than a pencil eraser; and a mole that's Evolving in size, shape, color or elevation, or that's itching, bleeding or scaling.
And always get an annual skin checkup from your doctor. The best practice? A dermatologist should use a pair of magnifying goggles to examine your skin all over; between your toes, in your genital area and your scalp. Getting checked is an easy way to save your life.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.