KARE reminder helps Chaska man catch melanoma early

9:37 PM, May 27, 2013   |    comments
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CHASKA, Minn. - At the time of year when the air gets warmer and we expose our skin to more of the sun's rays, it's no surprise that May is Melanoma Awareness Month.

It's important to be on the lookout for signs of skin cancer.

A Twin Cities area man says a simple reminder may just have saved his life.

On Tuesday, Terry Reisdorf shared a picture of himself holding his young daughter during family trip a couple years ago to Cancun.  You have to look closely to see the small, round, dark brown spot on his arm.

Reisdorf said, "I had this spot on my arm for two and a half years."

He didn't like the looks of it.  Still, when this Chaska dad looked up skin cancer on the internet, he figured he had nothing to worry about.

He said he told himself, "This passes all the tests for ABCD, symmetry, border, color, diameter."

Yes, Melanoma signs include a spot that: 

A - is asymmetrical

B - has a border that's irregular

C - has color that's uneven

D - has a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser.

But Reisdorf's spot didn't show those signs. It was uniform, round and small. 

Still he had a nagging feeling. 

So he said when he saw the KARE sunrise crew talking about melanoma at the beginning of May, "It kind of pushed me, or as you say kind of prodded me, to say, 'You should make an appointment to get this spot looked at.'"

Reisdorf saw a doctor on May 1st. 

It turns out, there's something else you should look for when looking for signs of melanoma. 

Dr. Debra Scherman, with Fairview-Primary Care Skin Clinic in Eden Prairie, called it the ugly duckling rule.

She said, "You may have many nevi, brown spots on your skin.  But usually, if you have one that's new or an old one that's changing into a melanoma, it will look like the ugly duckling among the others."

Reisdorf's spot didn't look like any others on his body.  He said, "It was that ugly duckling."

And Reisdorf's unusual spot turned out to be malignant melanoma.  His cancer was deep but doctors removed it and also a lymph node.

He said, "My surgeon called and said I am cancer free."

This father and husband is happy he caught it early.

Now he hopes to inspire others to look at their skin more closely.

Dr. Scherman said to protect your skin, it's important to apply about a shot-glass worth of 30 SPF broad spectrum sunscreen or higher, at least every two hours when outdoors. 

In addition to melanoma, there are also basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers which have different signs and symptoms. 

Check out more information on skin cancer from the American Cancer Society.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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