Our Marketing Director’s Melanoma Scare

BA Melanoma Cobey
Before & After. Surgery done by Dr. Shane Morita

Every year Dr. Scheel requires all of her employees to have to a full-body skin check.  This year, it may have saved our Marketing Director’s life.

Marketing Director Cobey Ackerman was born and raised in Kealakekua, Hawaii.  Like most kids growing up in Hawaii, she spent most of her days outdoors in the sun enjoying the many ocean sports.  Although her mother was constantly urging her to wear sunscreen and use some kind of sun protection, Cobey rarely gave it much thought.  She didn’t apply enough sunscreen and rarely ever reapplied it.  With her fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes she was making herself an easy target for skin cancer.

At her annual skin check Dr. Scheel noticed that two of her previously recorded moles had grown slightly and looked “atypical”.  Knowing that Cobey has a family history of melanoma, Dr. Scheel decided it was best to remove the moles and have them biopsied for further testing.  Just a few days later Dr. Scheel received the dreaded news from the pathologist that one of the moles may in fact be melanoma.  Just to be on the safe side, however, she requested a second opinion. Fortunately, the report indicated the mole looked to be a “severely atypical nevus” instead.   Meaning it wasn’t quite melanoma, but if left alone it would eventually turn into melanoma.

Due to Cobey’s family history, Dr. Scheel thought it best to send Cobey to Honolulu to see an Oncology Surgeon and Melanoma Specialist, Dr. Shane Morita.  After a consultation with Dr. Morita it was agreed that surgery was appropriate. Dr. Morita was able to remove the affected area and all the margins were clear.

Cobey was very lucky to have Dr. Scheel require a full-body skin check as this melanoma was caught early. The outcome could have been much different if she had put her appointment off and waited any longer.

We cannot stress enough the importance of checking your own skin and getting a thorough full-body skin exam by a Board Certified Dermatologist or a Board Certified Dermatologist PA. 

Here are some facts you should know about Skin Cancer:

– Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.

– Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body – eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, etc.

– Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race or gender.  Melanomas in native Hawaiians, Filipinos, Asians, African-Americans and Indonesians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60-75% of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

– Bob Marley died from a melanoma on his toe.

– Nearly 90% of melanomas are thought to be caused by exposure to UV light and sunlight.

– It takes only one blistering sunburn, especially at a young age, to more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.

– The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. One study found that about 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

– Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell  carcinoma by about 40% and the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.

– Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths

– On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

– One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 54 minutes).