Melanoma awareness: Key to catching the deadly skin cancer is early detection

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- May is National Melanoma Month, and the first Monday of May is known as Melanoma Monday, which is set by the American Academy of Dermatology to raise awareness about skin cancer.

Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers, and Arizona is the state with the highest rate of melanoma in the country. One Arizonan said he went into a dermatologist with no intention of getting screened, but as it turns out, he had melanoma. Fortunately, Craig Whitten was able to beat the odds.

"She found a spot on my back, and thought we should take a deeper look," said Whitten, who went to Arizona Advanced Dermatology for a bump near the inside of his eye. He had no idea that he would get treated for melanoma.

"Skin checks are important, because they allow us to pick up skin cancer in earlier stages," said Dr. Fisler. "Obviously, when something is deep, aggressive, established melonoma skin cancer, people can see womething is not right."

That involves checking the entire body, including the areas that are hidden from the sun.

"Who knew I had a ticking time bomb on my back?" said Whitten. "It's important to get in there for an annual check, if you're going to live in the desert."

Dermatologists say catching melanoma early is key, and about 192,000 people will be diagnosed with the cancer this year.

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Melanoma Information from the Mayo Clinic

Melanoma Information from the National Cancer Institute