What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a serious form of cancer of the pigmented cells of the skin. Melanoma may develop on normal skin or within an existing mole. Although melanoma is most common in fair skinned individuals, it can occur in people of any skin color.
The main cause of melanoma is ultraviolet light exposure – this includes both outdoor sunlight as well as tanning booth light.
Who is at risk for melanoma?
Some of the risk factors for melanoma include:
- a personal or family history of melanoma
- fair complexion
- red hair
- severe childhood sunburns
How to detect melanoma:
Perform self-skin exams at home monthly
Have regular skin exams with your dermatology provider
When performing self exams look for the ABCDE’s:
A = asymmetry – does one half of the spot look like the other half?
B = border – is the spot well defined, or does it have an irregular or poorly defined border?
C = color – is the spot one even color, or does it have multiple colors within it?
D= diameter – is the spot smaller or bigger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)?
E = evolving – is the spot changing?
Melanoma is diagnosed based on skin biopsy.
How to prevent melanoma:
Sun protection is the KEY!
We recommend an SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum sunscreen. Remember to reapply every 2 hours. If swimming or sweating, we recommend reapplying every 1 hour.
Limit your outdoor sun exposure between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Cover up with long pants and long sleeved shirt if able. Wear a wide brimmed hat with at least a 4 inch brim and sunglasses.