Experts say melanoma can be especially aggressive on the scalp

Sinclair Broadcast Group

When your summer plans take you outdoors, are you doing everything you can to protect yourself from skin cancer?

July is UV Safety Awareness Month. In Thursday’s Sinclair Cares report, Jennifer Gilbert shows us a potential threat to your health you may never have considered.

Pamela Kernan's annual visit with her dermatologist, turned out to be anything but routine.

“My dermatologist looked at the top of my head first, and saw an atypical area on the top of my head. It ended up being a thin melanoma on the scalp,” said Kernan.

Melanoma-- the deadliest form of skin cancer. On the scalp, in can be especially aggressive. When you read about it and you read about poor prognosis, it gets a little scary.

Melanoma on the scalp accounts for about 6-percent of all melanoma's, but it's related to about 10-percent of deaths from melanoma.

Kernan underwent surgery to remove the melanoma and because it was caught early, her prognosis is good. Still, her life has changed.

“It's scary. Your life flashes before you and then you become very cautious. So sun for me is a new approach,” said Kernan.

Kernan doesn't go out without a hat and sunscreen.

“They're usually at sporting events or out on the beach and the scalp is not an area that is thought to be protected,” said Dr. Rebecca Dodson, LifeBridge Health.

Dodson is a surgical oncologist at LifeBridge Health in Maryland.

“Taking a look at palms and soles, fingernails, toenails. those are areas that we tend to ignore that are important,” said Dodson.

Kernan is grateful for Dodson's expertise. It turns out, they had a connection long before Pamela's cancer.

“I'm a school nurse and I started at my school in 1993, and Dr. Dodson was a seventh grader,” said Kernan.

A connection discovered on Pamela's first consultation.

“Rebecca Dodson! The lightbulb went on, and it was wonderful and I feel like this was all meant to be,” said Kernan.