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FDR's Deadly Secret was Malignant Melanoma


With the reviews of the book 'FDR's Deadly Secret' written by Steven Lomazow and Eric Fettmann, it seems like a good time to review malignant melanoma. The book claims that the FDR suffered from "melanoma."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was seriously ill during the last year of his life with heart problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and arteriosclerosis. He is reported to have died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

The authors of “FDR’s Deadly Secret” bring to light his diagnosis of melanoma originating in a mole over his left eyebrow. It is very likely his skin cancer metastasized to his abdomen and brain. The tumor could have been the cause of his cerebral hemorrhage that killed him on April 12, 1945.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Today, it is almost always curable in its early stages. If melanoma is not caught early, it can advance and spread to other parts of the body. It then becomes hard to treat and can be fatal.

Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancers, but accounts for the approximately 74% of all deaths from skin cancers.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, there will be 8,650 fatalities in the U.S. The number of new cases of invasive melanoma is estimated at 68720. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, 1 in 200 for Hispanics.

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Everyone is at some risk for melanoma, but increased risk depends on several factors: sun exposure, number of moles on the skin, skin type and family history (genetics).

For many years, the early warning signs of melanoma have been identified by the acronym "ABCDE" (A stands for Asymmetry, B stands for Border, C for Color, D for Diameter and E for Evolving or changing was recently added.).

A new concept of the “ugly duckling” has been added to pick up the melanomas that don’t fit the ABCDE rule. This new method of sight detection for skin lesions is based on the concept that these melanomas look different -- ie, "the ugly duckling" -- compared to surrounding moles.

For early detection of melanoma, look for lesions that manifest the ABCDE's AND for lesions that look different compared to surrounding moles.

If you are in any of these risk groups, you can protect yourself and your children by practicing safe sun habits, remembering to examine yourself regularly, watching for the warning signs and getting yearly exams by a dermatologist or other physician experienced in skin care.

For more information on malignant melanoma:
National Cancer Institute

The Skin Cancer Foundation

Race for 2012 Blog
National Cancer Institute
The Skin Cancer Foundation