If you have ever used a tanning bed or spent the day in the sun without wearing sunblock, you may have been cautioned about developing melanoma. Melanoma is a common form of cancer in which the cells responsible for producing skin pigment become cancerous. Despite the prevalence of this condition, particularly in patients over the age of 40, it is still fairly misunderstood. To learn more about this form of skin cancer and how you can protect yourself, continue reading below.
What You Should Know About Melanoma
1. Melanoma Is Only One Type of Skin Cancer
Although it is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma is only one type. Other forms of the disease include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and actinic keratosis. Melanoma is the second most common form after basal cell carcinoma.
2. Moles Checks Are Essential
About once a month, scan the surface of your skin for any new and unusual moles, as well as changes in existing ones. The signs you should look out for include: asymmetry in mole shape, raised or ragged borders and edges, unusual colors such as red, blue, black, or white, a mole diameter larger than a pencil eraser, or one which appears to be changing shape or size. If you spot any of these, contact your dermatologist right away to perform a biopsy.
3. There Are Various Risk Factors
Scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact cause of melanoma. However, there are a number of ways to determine a person’s risk factor. Heredity plays a big role in whether or not you will develop the condition. Patients with pale skin and blonde or red hair at a higher risk than those with darker features. Lifestyle choices such as the use of tanning beds and excessive sun exposure may increase your risk as well.
4. Yearly Dermatologist Visits Save Lives
When found in its earliest stages, melanoma has a 98% success rate. While monthly self-checks can identify potential risks, these alone are not enough to screen for the disease. A yearly visit with your dermatologist helps to identify any signs and symptoms you may have missed. Additionally, these visits allow your dermatologist to remove any cancerous moles, preventing the disease from spreading and worsening.
If you are concerned you may be developing melanoma and would like to schedule a cancer screening, contact Central Carolina Dermatology Clinic. Located in High Point, NC, this dermatological clinic specializes in all forms of skin care and cancer prevention. To schedule an appointment, call (336) 887-3195 or visit the website to learn more about their services.