6 Important Facts About Melanoma

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    What to Know About Melanoma
    You may know that melanoma is a type of skin cancer. And you probably know that too much time in the sun can cause melanoma. What you may not know is while many types of cancer are becoming less common, melanoma is becoming more common. It is now the most common cancer in people 25 to 29 years old. Arm yourself with the facts and you'll be better prepared to protect yourself and your family from this dangerous form of skin cancer.

  • Skin Cancer Removal
    1. Melanoma starts in skin cells called melanocytes.
    Melanocytes are skin cells that produce pigment—or color—in your skin. When ultraviolet light damages these cells, they can start to grow uncontrollably. That’s what cancer is. This damage usually comes from intense sun exposure or from using tanning beds or booths. A melanoma usually starts as a new brown or black skin spot or a change in a skin mole that you already have. If you have lots of skin moles—more than 100—you have a higher risk of melanoma.


  • Close-up of young red-headed Caucasian woman with freckles smiling
    2. Your genes may put you at risk of melanoma.
    Almost 90% of melanoma comes from exposure to ultraviolet light. Your chances of developing it double after you have just five sunburns. However, your genes may also put you at risk. If you have a close relative—a parent or sibling—who has had melanoma, your risk increases by about 50%. About 1 of every 10 people with melanoma has a family history of it. People who have fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue eyes also face an increased risk.


  • Melanoma, Mole, Skin Cancer. High definition image.
    3. Knowing your ABCDEs can make most melanomas curable.
    Melanoma can almost always be cured if it's found and treated early. The ABCDE system is the best way to do that. A is for asymmetry—a mole that is larger on one side than the other. B is for borders—uneven or notched edges. C is for color—a variety of colors. D is for diameter—size greater than a pencil eraser. E is for evolving—changes in size, color and thickness. Also watch out for moles that start to itch or bleed.


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    4. The stage of melanoma determines your treatment.
    Doctors describe melanoma by its thickness, depth and spread. This is called staging. Stage 1 and 2 melanomas are only in the skin. Stage 3 and 4 melanomas have spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body. For most stage 1 and 2 melanomas, treatment is to remove the cancer and a small amount of normal tissue around it. For stage 3 and 4, treatment options may include surgery, cancer drugs, and radiation treatments.




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    5. There are four types of melanoma.
    Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type. It usually shows up on men's backs or trunks and women's backs or legs. Lentigo maligna melanoma is more common in older people. It usually appears on the face, ears, arms, and upper body. Acral lentiginous melanoma forms under nails and on the soles and palms. It’s the most common melanoma in those with dark skin. Nodular melanoma is most likely to spread. It’s usually a colored bump on the trunk, legs, arms, or scalp of elderly people.


  • Protecting children's skin from the sun
    6. You can reduce your risk of melanoma.
    You can lower your risk of melanoma by protecting your skin. When you're outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., seek shade. Wear protective clothes—long sleeves, long pants, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor—SPF—of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours. And, of course, avoid tanning booths and tanning beds. Finally, check your whole body, using the ABCDE method, at least once a month. If you see anything suspicious, show your doctor.


6 Important Facts About Melanoma

About The Author

  1. Can Melanoma Skin Cancer Be Prevented? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-prevention.
  2. Melanoma Causes and Risk Factors. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/melanoma-causes-and-risk-factors.
  3. Skin Cancer Facts. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts.
  4. Stages of Melanoma Diagnosis. Melanoma Research Foundation. http://www.melanoma.org/understand-melanoma/diagnosing-melanoma/stages-of-diagnosis.
  5. The Stages of Melanoma. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/the-stages-of-melanoma.
  6. Treatment of Melanoma Skin Cancer by Stage. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-treating-by-stag.... .
  7. Types of Melanoma. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/types-of-melanoma.
  8. What Is Melanoma? Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 8
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.