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April 27, 1995

Risk test for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer

(Editor's note: The following risk test was provided by Arthur Rhodes, director of Pitt's pigmented lesion clinic.)

Risk factors for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer differ somewhat, so they must be considered separately. Answer the questions with a simple yes or no.

Melanoma of the Skin

1. Do you have a single new mole or freckle that was not present a year ago at this time, a mole or freckle that has been itchy or sensitive for six weeks or longer, that stands out from all the rest by being large and unusual, or that was present last year at this time but since has changed in some way?

2. Has a doctor ever told you that you have (or had) at least one mole called dysplastic or atypical?

3. Have you ever had melanoma of the skin?

4. Has any blood-related member in your immediate family ever had melanoma?

5. Based on what your parents have told you, were you born with a mole?

6. Do you have five or more moles at least as large as a dried lentil (about 1/4 inch diameter)?

7. Do you have one or more moles at least as large as a dime?

Basal Cell Cancer and Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin

1. Do you have a single new red or flesh-colored bump, warty spot, or non-healing sore that has been present for six weeks or longer?

2. Have you ever had cancer of the skin of the basal cell or squamous cell type?

3. Have you ever had radiation (X-ray) treatment for acne, ringworm, cancer or some other medical disorder?

4. Are you taking medicines for an organ transplant or getting chemotherapy for leukemia, lymphoma or some other cancer?

5. When you go in the sun, do have a tendency to freckle?

6. When you go in the sun, do you mostly burn and have difficulty tanning?

A yes answer to any of the above questions does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, but may indicate the need for a medical examination of your skin now, and possibly periodic examinations in the future. Take advantage of the free skin cancer screenings in your area to see if you have a high risk for developing melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer, or if you have a developing tumor now.

For more information, call 648-3251.

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