According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of cancer death in young women aged 25-30 and the second leading cause of death in women aged 30-35. Today, nearly 1 million people live with melanoma in the U.S. Nearly 90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV light, including sunlight. Melanoma is not just skin cancer, it can develop anywhere in the body - eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, etc. People with fair skin and red hair have a higher sensitivity to sun on the skin, however UV light can damage the skin of all races and puts every- one at risk of contracting skin cancer.
Prevention of Melanoma
- Nearly 90% of melanomas are thought to be caused by exposure to UV light and sunlight.
- Experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20 increases one’s melanoma risk by 80 percent.
- You can help prevent melanoma by seeking shade whenever possible, wearing protective clothing, avoiding direct sunlight between 10am-4pm and using broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day.
- Indoor tanning devices should also be avoided. They are proven to cause cancer and have been classified into the highest cancer risk category by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC).
Detection of Melanoma
- To ensure early detection of melanoma, conduct monthly self-examinations and attend annual skin examinations by a dermatologist.
- Follow the ABCDE guide to determine if an unusual mole or spot on your skin may be melanoma. Contact a dermatologist immediately if you notice:
Asymmetry: one side of the mole is not identical to the other side of the mole
Border irregularity: mole has irregular, notched, or scalloped borders
Color: multiple colors or uneven distribution of color
Diameter: growth has a larger diameter than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch)
Evolving: mole changes over time in size, color, or shape
For more information visit the Mayo Clinic website.