Melanoma Monday - 4 Reminders About Melanoma

by Brittany McNabb

May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month. In honor of Melanoma Monday, here are some reminders about melanoma and 4 things you may want to know.

Melanoma Monday


Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that can be dangerous if not found early. According to the American Cancer Society, the most important way to lower your risk of melanoma is to protect yourself from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. As we move into summer, remember to practice sun safety and protect yourself from UV radiation. 

1. Melanoma is aggressive and metastatic. 

Melanoma Metastatic


Every year about 1 million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer; of that 1 million about 60,000 will be melanoma. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma most often forms in the skin but can also form in the eyes and mouth. Not only can melanoma split out, causing moles and skin abnormalities to change in appearance, but it can split down under the skin meaning that the changes over time are not always visible. If melanoma spreads it commonly affects the brain, lymph nodes, lungs, liver, abdomen, and bones. Risk factors of melanoma include UV rays, moles, family history of melanoma, and if you have had melanoma before. About 10% of people with melanoma have a family history of melanoma.

2. Melanoma can be easier to treat if found early.

Protect Yourself From Melanoma


Here are a few early prevention techniques:

- Use protection when you are in the sun or exposed to UV rays
- Wear a shirt, put on a hat, and wear sunglasses
- Sit in the shade
- Stay away from tanning beds
- Wear sunscreen

Reminder: The suggested amount of sunscreen to be applied to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face for the average adult is about one ounce. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours you are in the sun. Be careful of sweating or washing the sunscreen off in water; don’t forget to apply lip balm with SPF.

3. Early detection of melanoma means that you are checking your skin regularly and know what to look for. 

Early Detection Melanoma


Some people don’t realize that it is important to check their skin regularly for any skin abnormalities. This month make an effort to check your skin and contact a dermatologist if you see anything suspicious. Read the American Cancer Society’s page on Melanoma what to look for when doing a self-examination.

Hint: Use the ABCDE rule when remembering what to look for during a self-exam:
- A is for Asymmetry: when one half does not match the other
- B is for Border: when the edges are irregular, jagged, or blurred
- C is for Color: the color has changed or is not the same all over
- D is for Diameter: the spot is larger than 6 millimeters across
- E is for Evolving: the spot is changing in size, shape, or color

4. Cancer of the skin is the most common of all cancers. 

Skin Cancer Is The Most Common Of Cancers


Melanoma accounts for about 2% of skin cancers but also one of the more dangerous types. Here are some important stats and survival rates of melanoma:

- 76,690 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013.
- The average age at which melanoma is found is 61.
- Melanoma is one of the most common cancers found in younger adults (especially young women).
- Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it is started before the age of 30.
- 45,060 cases of melanoma will occur in males.
- 31,630 cases of melanoma will occur in females.
- It is 10 times more common in Caucasians than in African-Americans and is slightly more common in males than in females.
- 91% and 89% is the survival rate for people with all stages of melanoma to live without the disease for at least 5 or 10 years.
- Survival rates increase for patients with a closer proximity to care.
- The top three states with the most cases of melanoma are California, Florida, and New York.
- Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, and 1 in 200 for Hispanics.

It is important to know about melanoma because of its aggressive nature and because early prevention and detection are a vital part of this type of cancer. This May, take initiative to check your skin for abnormalities, practice sun safety, and spread the word about the warning signs of melanoma. 

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