According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over 87,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017 alone. Although melanoma accounts for less than 1 percent of all skin cancer diagnoses in adults, it has the highest mortality rate of all skin cancers (basal cell and squamous). As The Asarch Center celebrates Melanoma Awareness Month, we encourage our patients to use this time to learn about their risks and learn to protect themselves from the dangers of the sun.
Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection
Contrary to popular belief, tanned skin is not a sign of health, but rather of skin damage triggered by exposure to UV rays, which cause the skin to produce more melanin. Protecting your skin from overexposure to harmful UV rays is the No. 1 weapon against melanoma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin can become damaged in as little as 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure but may not show signs of a tan or sunburn for up to 12 hours. Always protect your skin by wearing sunscreen (preferably an SPF 30 containing either zinc or titanium), and wear sunglasses and a hat to protect the scalp, neck, and ears. Try to avoid sun exposure during peak midday hours, when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Although moles and freckles are not necessarily a sign of skin cancer, speak to a dermatologist if you notice any changes to the size, shape, color or borders of an existing mole.
Melanoma Symptoms and Risk Factors —
What to Look For
Anyone can develop melanoma, and while it is more common in people with fair skin and lighter features, people with darker skin are not immune. A family or personal history of skin cancer can increase the risk, as well as total lifetime exposure.
In addition to changes in existing moles or the growth of new ones, other melanoma symptoms may include pain, itching, bleeding or sores that are slow to or do not heal. But some people may not experience symptoms in the early stages. Regular skin cancer screenings are the best way to protect your skin and obtain an early diagnosis.
Don’t Forget the Kids
Melanoma accounts for close to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
For more information on your individual skin cancer risk or to learn more about prevention, contact Asarch Dermatology and Aesthetics in Colorado to schedule a skin check today.