UH Med Now

Melanoma Symposium Offers Latest About Potentially Deadly Risk of Too Much Sunshine

Date: May 1st, 2015 in Alumni News, JABSOM News, Research    Print or PDF

A symposium about melanoma drew a crowd of about 100 to the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center in Kaka’ako to discuss the latest in treatment, research and prevention.

Asinate Vaivela

Asinate Vaivela, a 21-year-old cancer survivor from Maui was diagnosed with stage-three melanoma in 2011, when she went to the doctor to check out a cyst on the side of her foot.

“I was just shocked that I had cancer. I didn’t think that someone young like me would get it,” said Vaivela.

The symposium also featured free skin cancer screenings. Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing in Hawaiʻi and doctors say early detection and prevention are key.

Dr. Shane Morita, John A. Burns School of Medicine alumnus, medical professor and assistant clinical professor at the UH Cancer Center, said, “Anyone’s at risk. You can be fair-skinned and you can be dark-skinned. Look at your hands and feet.”

Although melanoma is frequently detected in Caucasians, it is detected at a more advanced stage in other ethnicites. It’s something Vaivela knows first-hand.

Asinate Vaivela

“It can be Filipinos or dark-skinned people as well. So if you see anything out of the ordinary, or you just never know, you should check it out with your doctor,” she said.

Some prevention tips include limiting sun exposure, using sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and having your doctor check your skin during health exams.

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