4 Melanoma Facts You Must Know

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, and it can affect anyone. If you would like to learn more about melanoma, check out these four facts you need to know.

1. It’s a Common Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world, and one in five Americans will develop a form of skin cancer by age 70, usually the non-melanoma skin cancer,  Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. In fact, in America, cases of skin cancer surpass all other forms of cancer combined. Skin cancer is so common and problematic that it kills an average of two people every hour in the US.  Approximately 15,000 people a year in the United States die every year from Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, as it is 100% likely to spread to other organs if not caught early.   You are at twice the risk of developing melanoma if you’ve had five or more sunburns. Luckily, Melanoma is curable if caught early, and the latest immunotherapy treatments have allowed even patients with metastatic Melanoma to survive longer.   Because of this, even though Melanoma cases are expected to rise by about 2 percent a year, melanoma deaths are expected to decrease by 5.3 percent, because of the newer therapies. . Removing premalignant moles, called Dysplastic Nevi, before they turn into Melanoma, will decrease the risk of acquiring Melanoma. Change in size, shape, color, and border of the mole can be a sign of a Dysplastic premalignant lesion, or a Melanoma.

2. It’s Caused by UV Rays

Melanoma, and non Melanoma skin cancer (NMSC)  is largely caused by UV radiation, which comes in the form of sunrays, but tanning beds can also give off this form of radiation. UV rays from the sun include UVA and UVB Ultraviolet rays.  Most tanning beds are now UVB Ultraviolet radiation , which is the most dangerous form of Ultraviolet radiation.  The history of prior use of tanning beds increases your risk of Melanoma by six fold.  Ultraviolet also inactivates the sunscreen chemicals in most sunscreens, rendering them ineffective fairly quickly.  Zinc and Titanium, known as physical sunscreen blockers, are NOT inactivated by Ultraviolet radiation.  Zinc blocks all three carcinogenic wavelengths of Ultraviolet:  UVA-1 , UVA-2, and UVB.  It is the only sunscreen ingredient that blocks all three.   Using a sunscreen that contains at least 9% zinc will markedly decrease your risk of acquiring skin cancer.

 

3. It’s More Common in Light-Skinned People

When it comes to Melanoma, the natural color of your skin matters. The darker your normal skin tone, the more melanin it contains, and melanin is amazing at blocking the dangerous effects of UV rays.   People who tan can still get Melanoma, however,  fair skin people who do not tan and always burn, are most at risk for Melanoma if they go outside without sun protection.  Caucasian individuals who insist on tanning, even when they don’t burn, are most at risk of acquiring Melanoma.

Some individuals, especially those genetically prone,  can acquire Melanoma in the mouth, scalp, groin area,  retina of the eye, and in the perianal area.  Check these areas if you can, or have them checked.

African Americans can develop Melanoma on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or nails, where the skin is lighter.

4. It Doesn’t Always Start With a Mole

Age spots, called a ‘lentigo’, can also develop into a Melanoma.  There is a type of early Melanoma called a Lentigo Maligna, that can become quite deadly, that can start like an age spot on the face, scalp, chest, back, etc.  Melanoma can also be a pink bump, a new ‘white spot’, or resemble something that doesnt look like a Melanoma at all.

Even a few sunburns can significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma. If you would like to learn more, or if you want to have a suspicious spot or mark examined, contact us at Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center today.

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