May is Melanoma Awareness Month.
Melanoma is one of the less common forms of skin cancer, however it is the deadliest. Exposure to UV radiation from the sunlight and tanning beds has been linked to the development of melanoma. The rates of melanoma are rising rapidly, especially in younger people. In fact, the number of new cases of melanoma has tripled in the last 30 years, at a time when cancer rates for other common cancers have declined.
When detected early, melanoma is highly curable. While treatments for late stage melanoma are improving rapidly, thanks to new research efforts, the survival rates are still low. That is why taking steps to prevent melanoma, as well as early detection and treatment is key to survival. Applying sunscreen daily to all exposed areas, as well as reapplying it every two hours is crucial. It is also important: 1.) to wear a wide brim hat, sun glasses with UV protection, sun protection clothing; 2.) to avoid peak hours of the day; and 3.) to seek shade if you have to be outside.
Not only can melanoma arise from an existing mole, but it may also appear as a new mole. It is important to be aware of the warning signs. These are called the ABCDE’s. A is for asymmetry (one half is not a mirror image of the other half). B is for borders (the edges are ill defined or jagged). C is for colors (it changed colors or contains different colors). D is for diameter (greater than 6mm). E is for evolving lesions (change in site, shape or color). It is also important to pay attention to a mole that has begun to hurt, itch or bleed.
Call us today and schedule your yearly skin exam. Keep an eye on our social media pages this month to get tips on how to prevent and spot melanoma.