Melanoma Awareness Month

Melanoma

May is Melanoma Awareness Month.

Melanoma or malignant melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes commonly found in the skin. Melanocytes are melanin or pigmented-producing cells. May is the month designated to spread the word about strategies for preventing skin cancer and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. But when caught early, melanoma is highly curable. This is just one reason this month is so important. Melanoma is commonly seen in the skin but it can be seen in the mouth, intestines, or eye. In women it most commonly occurs on the legs, while in men they are mostly seen on the back. The primary cause of melanoma is ultraviolet light exposure whether it be from the sun or a tanning bed. Avoiding UV light and the use of sunscreen may help prevent melanoma. There are about 76,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed each year. It is estimated that 15 percent of those cases result in death. Melanoma is more commonly seen in Caucasians. The risk of melanoma increases as people age. Men seem to have a higher risk of developing Melanoma after age 45, but before age 45, it is the women. CompassionCare Hospice believes it is important to know, understand, and protect your skin.

The ABCD rules of Skin CancerMost people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless. But it is important to recognize changes in a mole. It’s size, shape, or color can suggest a melanoma may be developing.

A – Asymmetrical Shape : Melanoma lesions are often irregular, or not symmetrical, in shape. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.

B – Border : Typically, non-cancerous moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.

C – Color : The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.

D – Diameter : Melanoma lesions are often greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).

E – Evolving : If a mole has gone through changes in color and/or shape, that could hint at a melanoma lesion.