On Monday February 4, 2019, Former Miss Universe, Dayanara Torres took to Instagram to reveal troubling news. She announced that she has skin cancer, specifically, melanoma. She is now urging everyone to get their skin checked. In an Instagram post she wrote, “Today I have some sad news... I have been diagnosed with skin cancer 'melanoma' from a big spot/mole I never paid attention to”. Torres also explained that her fiancé had “begged her to get that spot checked” and finally made the appointment for her to get it checked. She continued to share doctors already removed a large area from the back of her knee & 2 lymph nodes at the top of her leg where it had already spread. She is “hoping it has not spread to any more areas or organs”.
I’ve heard of melanoma but, what is it exactly?
Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells of our skin (melanocytes). Although it is one of the deadliest form of skin cancer, it is highly treatable when detected early. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melanoma rates in the U.S. have doubled over the last 30 years and have continued to increase. In 2019, it is estimated that nearly 200,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S.
Several risk factors can make a person more susceptible to melanoma or other forms of skin cancer, including exposure to ultraviolet rays (a.k.a., sunlight or tanning beds), having moles, having fair skin or freckles, and having a family history of melanoma. Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. Skin cancer in patients with skin of color is often diagnosed in its later stages, when it’s more difficult to treat.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is by practicing proper sun protection. This means apply generous amounts of sunscreen as well as doing self skin checks for abnormal or changing moles.
What to do next?
Dayanara Torres urges her followers on Instagram to take better care of themselves and pay attention to their bodies. "If you see or feel something different in your body, have it checked," she wrote. "I had no idea skin cancer could spread anywhere else in your body."
Another thing to keep in mind when performing skin cancer exam is the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
According to the American Cancer Society, the best treatment for melanoma is based on the stage of the cancer, as well as other factors, but will often include some form of surgery, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
In her Instagram post Torres urges her followers to be more aware of their skin “if you see or feel something different in your body, have it checked”. Be aware of your skin and schedule your skin exam with your local dermatologist today. Early detection is the best way to prevent the cancer from spreading. We at The Dermatology Center have two convenient locations in Bethesda and Germantown as well as evening and Saturday hours.
As far as handling her diagnosis, she seems prepared to do whatever it takes for the sake of herself and her two sons, “My sons, although a bit scared, know about my faith and know they have a warrior of a mommy!"
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