What Is Melanoma?

A type of skin cancer, melanoma, develops in the melanin-producing cells responsible for the pigment that gives color to our hair, skin, and eyes. As the most dangerous form of skin cancer, it can potentially spread to other parts of the body quickly if left untreated. While melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, anyone can get it. When diagnosed and treated early, the cure rate is nearly 100%. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body, and when it spreads, it can be deadly.

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Who Gets Melanoma?

While anyone can develop melanoma, certain factors may increase your risk of developing the disease. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Exposure to UV radiation from natural sources such as the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds
  • Fair skin, particularly those with blond or red hair and light-colored eyes
  • Family history with a close relative who has had melanoma
  • Having many moles
  • Personal history of having had melanoma in the past increases the risk
  • Weakened immune system

Preventative Measures

Dermatologists believe that the number of deaths resulting from melanoma would be much lower if people:

  • Knew the warning signs of melanoma
  • Learned how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer
  • Took the time to examine their skin
  • Remembered melanoma has a genetic component – those with a family member who has had melanoma have a 50% greater chance of developing it and should be checked once a year

Protect Yourself

Wear Sunscreen Daily

Wear sunscreen containing at least SPF 30 every day. You are exposed to the sun’s rays simply by driving in your car and walking by windows at home or work. The best sunscreens contain zinc oxide, which will protect you from both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays) radiation.

Use Waterproof Sunscreen

Use waterproof sunscreen of at least SPF 30 at the pool or beach. One adult should use two tablespoons of sunscreen. A family of four will go through one and a half 8 oz bottles of sunscreen in two days. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp, face, and neck.

Avoid the Sun

Avoiding sun exposure between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM can help protect your skin. When possible, seek shade from trees, umbrellas, or other structures that can block the sun's rays. Use caution near water, snow, and sand that can reflect the sun’s rays.

Wear Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing anytime you go out in the sun. If you can see through a shirt when you hold it up to the light, it will not protect your skin from the sun. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection will help prevent damage to your eyes.

Are You Concerned About Melanoma?

Seeing a dermatologist once a year for a skin assessment can help you prevent the risks associated with skin cancer. Our medical providers at Skin Care Doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating melanoma with the most advanced surgical techniques that can effectively remove cancerous cells while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. Contact our office today to schedule a skin assessment with one of our providers, so we can ensure your skin remains safe and healthy.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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