As May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month there are five things you may want to know about melanoma.
Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that can be dangerous if it is not found early, many clinical trials are offered for melanoma patients, there is about a 90% survival rate for people with all stages of melanoma to live without the disease for at least 5 or 10 years, and that there are a few things you can do that may help protect your skin from skin cancer. Below are details on things you may want to know.
1. Melanoma is Aggressive and 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. 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. Clinical Trials
Only 3% of people with melanoma participate in clinical trials; of people that cannot participate in clinical trials, 40% say it is because the inconvenience of travel. Among the other reasons are financial reasons. The decision to participate in a clinical trial may not be easy; to read about one patient’s firsthand experience with clinical trials, you can visit SkinofSteel.org and find information about Susan Steel’s willingness to explore her options involving clinical trials.
Skin of Steel is a not-for-profit whose mission is “to improve patient outcomes by establishing Chicago as a center of excellence for melanoma treatment and research.” Its founder, Susan Steel, is a 7-year melanoma survivor who has undergone seven clinical trials and seven brain surgeries.
3. Stats and Survival Rates
- 76,690 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013.
- 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.
4. Early Prevention
Melanoma may be easier to treat if it is found early. There are a few prevention methods that you may want to know.
- 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
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.
5. Early Detection
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
It is important to know about melanoma because of its aggressive nature, clinical trials that may be an option for patients, high survival rates with early detection, and methods of prevention and early detection. You can read Susan Steel’s personal story on WhatNext.com to find out more about her battle with melanoma and journey that has kept her as a survivor for seven years. Is there any information you have on melanoma, prevention, clinical trials, or simply information on your journey that you would like to share with us? Comment below.