Reproduced with Permission from the Academy of Dermatology
It was a usual workday for Ms. Patricia M. Marquez, Patient Resources Worker, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center (MLK OPC), until she found herself walking onto an impromptu “set,” where she was recruited to “play a patient” for a LA Health Services promotional video. There she was “treated” by MLK Dermatologist Dr. Carla Herriford who dutifully examined a mole on Ms. Marquez’s nose, which had been present for over five years. Dr. Herriford later pulled Ms. Marquez aside to urge her to see a dermatologist as soon as possible, as skin cancer was suspected.
Dermatology care goes well beyond acne, warts and Botox, and we might not prioritize skin health until there’s a problem. As with all other organs, healthy skin requires preventive, potentially life-saving care. With May as Melanoma Awareness month, we encourage you to be aware of and promote skin health. Protect yourself from the sun’s UV light by covering up, seeking shade and wearing sunscreen. Most significantly, be aware of the ABCDE’s of melanoma: If you have a brown, tan, black or other new skin lesion which is Asymmetric, has irregular Borders, Changes in Color, Diameter greater than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), or is Evolving, it isn’t necessarily a melanoma, but would be a good idea to have a board-certified dermatologist examine it.
As for Ms. Marquez, she quickly followed Dr. Herriford’s advice, and soon after that filming, was diagnosed with skin cancer. Coming back full circle, a Kaiser Dermatology Mohs surgeon who had trained at MLK performed her surgery. She is now completely healed, and expresses gratitude for Dr. Herriford’s keen eye. As evidenced here, the LA Health Services mission extends to our own LA Health Services family, where we care, not only for our patients…but also each for each other! Don’t forget your sunscreen!
For more information on skin cancer prevention, contact Delphine Lee, Director of LA Health Services Dermatology Service Line. DLee6@DHS.lacounty.gov.