Melanoma: Early detection is key

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s summertime and most of us are spending our time in the pool, at the beach and doing outdoor activities. 

Being exposed to the hot sun is inevitable, but are you doing everything you can to protect yourself from skin cancer?

Like most of us, Joanna Jones never thought about cancer until it struck her family. 

Earl Hull, 31,  a religious man, spent his free time rapping Christian music and preaching about Jesus.

“He was a very loving, caring person. not just because he was my son,” said Joanna Jones, Earl Hull’s mother.

He had three children. Five, seven and 11 at the time. 

It was 2014 and he noticed something unusual on his head.

“He started out with a little spot on his head July 2014, but he didn’t tell me until November,” said Jones. “I told him ‘you better get that checked’. So in December, we went to the doctor’s and he said we need to get to a dermatologist.”

The following month, Hull was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma cancer. Hull passed away 13 months later.

“He was so beautiful, he was such a beautiful person,” said Hull. “Everyone that knew him, loved him.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. 

Dr. Ravi Patel, medical director with the Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Center, says the best way to combat it is early detection. 

“The best outcome is finding it early when it has not spread or it has not become deeper or invasive and there the cure rate is substantial,” said Patel.

Dr. Patel recommends you keep an eye out for any new moles. If it’s not symmetrical, it changes color and size, you need to get it checked soon, he says. He also recommends you do your best to not spend too much time in the sun. 

“It’s summer and you want to enjoy the pool, you want to go out to the beach,” said Patel. “If you want to have a good time, don’t have too much of a good time. Go out there stay for a brief period of time and then go right back in. Prolonged exposure to the sun just doesn’t give enough time to heal to your skin and it produces damage and that repeated damage produces changes in the skin that lead to the melanoma.”

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