POSTED: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - 12:30pm
UPDATED: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - 12:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Adrian Plotnicoff, 19, goes for a thorough skin check-up by his dermatologist every six months.
He had precancerous moles removed in the past, so he was always on the lookout for anything that looked suspicious.
His vigilance paid off in January.
"I actually noticed it in my skin check that there was a weird mole between my toes I had never seen before," said Plotnicoff.
His dermatologist, Dr. Marta Rendon, was surprised by what she saw.
"He takes his shoe off, we look at it and it's pitch black, irregular."
It turned out to be malignant melanoma.
Also surprising is the fact that this college freshman is not Rendon's youngest patient with this cancer.
"I had a 10 year old with melanoma several years ago," said Rendon, who has busy practice in Boca Raton.
She says Melanoma is the second leading cause of cancer in people ages 15 to 29.
"Forty percent of them are diagnosed late because we don't think about kids having skin cancer," said Rendon.
Plotnicoff's melanoma was detected at a very early stage and was surgically removed.
"It's a very scary word but I was extremely relieved that we had a doctor that I know was behind us and got him immediate attention," said his mother Laura Plotnicoff.
Now they're hoping to get the attention of young sun lovers who might not realize the importance of using sunscreen and reapplying at least every two hours.
The American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone to check your own skin for possible warning signs.
"Something pops up out of the blue, it's black, dark or if it bleeds, grows, or changes color any of those signs you need to bring it up to your doctor," said Rendon.