May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and it comes at a good time as temperatures rise and people spend more time outside.
As you head out of doors with your friends and family, make sure you're aware of a particularly dangerous type of skin cancer, melanoma.
This infographic gives you some quick facts and prevention tips (text below):
Melanoma and Skin Cancer Prevention: The Facts
Melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer, but because it usually and rapidly spreads, it is the most serious type of skin cancer that is the leading cause of skin cancer-related deaths.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 96,480 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the year 2019. Approximately 50,000 will be detected in men and 39,000 in women. The average age when melanoma is diagnosed is 63, but it can occur in people even younger than 30 years old.
Melanomas often appear as moles, and some even develop from existing moles.
People who are genetically predisposed to the disease have a greater chance of developing melanoma, so it cannot truly be prevented due to uncontrollable factors such as family history and race.
Symptoms of Melanoma
The most common sign of melanoma is a new, dark spot on the skin, but it can also be a change in the size, shape, texture, or color of an existing mole. Other melanoma symptoms may include:
- Sores that do not heal
- Redness or swelling that spreads around a spot
- Itchiness, tenderness, or pain from a spot on the skin
- Concerning changes in an existing mole including change in size, shape, texture, or bleeding or scaling
Reduce Your Risk
Limit Your Exposure to UV Rays
UV rays are a leading cause of melanoma, and it's not uncommon to see this type of cancer appear on people who enjoy sunbathing or tanning beds. You can limit the harmful effects of UV rays by:
- Always using sunblock
- Staying in the shade as much as possible
- Wearing shirts and hats in the sun
- Avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps
Perform Monthly Self-Examinations
The point of a monthly examination is to get to know your skin and your moles so that you can identify any changes as soon as they happen.
Get an Annual Skin Check-up from a Board-Certified Dermatologist
The only way to be sure if a mole is a melanoma is to have it examined and possible removed by a doctor.
While skin self-examinations are a critical part of early detection, preventing the serious effects of melanoma also means seeing a board-certified dermatologist. Examinations last from five to 15 minutes, and if any abnormalities are found, it is possible in many cases to have a biopsy or excision performed that day.
Schedule an Appointment to Catch Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers
Skin cancer is almost always curable if caught early. If you're worried you are at risk for melanoma or would like a skin examination, schedule an appointment today.
Originally posted May, 2018. Updated April, 2019.