May is National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month.
The aim of National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month is to raise awareness about skin cancer and increase the chances of early detection so treatments can be given early. It’s vital that skin cancers such as melanoma, is treated early since later stage treatments are not normally effective
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancers most often distinguished by pigmented blackish or brownish coloration and irregular and ill-defined borders. It occurs in the deepest portion of the epidermis, and for this reason, melanoma is the most likely form of skin cancer to spread quickly in the skin and to other parts of the body.
Skin cancer is more common in people with lightly pigmented skin. Those with fair or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and those who burn easily are also more likely to get skin cancer.
Melanoma is often caused by exposure to high levels of sunlight. A mole can become malignant (cancerous) often years after the skin has been burnt (often after sun bathing or using tanning beds). One or more blistering sunburns during childhood or teenage years can cause skin cancer many years later. While previous exposure to the sun and tanning beds are established risk factors, melanoma and other skin cancers can still arise without overexposure to sun and light. Please consult a suitable healthcare professional if you have any concerns with your skin.
The Melanoma Research Alliance recommends, “knowing your skin and examining it regularly. Recognizing changes in the skin is the best way to detect melanoma early. Add monthly skin checks to your routine.” (http://www.curemelanoma.org/about-melanoma/)
It’s important to pay attention to moles or growths that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, exhibit changes in color, have a diameter larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or have evolved in size or thickness. If you notice one or more of these signs, see your healthcare provider.