May has been designated National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention month by the American Academy of Dermatology and the goal is to raise awareness about skin cancer and increasing the chances of early detection so early treatments can be given. It is very important that skin cancers like melanoma which a rare and often deadly form of skin cancer is treated as early as possible, later stage treatments are not normally effective and there is no reliable cure for melanoma. In most cases the cancerous tissue is removed as well as malignant moles, the skin around the mole and nearby lymph nodes when the cancer has spread. Melanoma doesn’t respond very well to chemo and the drug treatments are limited. Once it spreads to other parts of the body the life expectancy diminishes rapidly so it is vital for surgical treatments to be done as early as possible.
Skin is the most common place for cancer in the United States and many other countries according to skin cancer statistics. It’s most common in people with light pigmented skin with whites at the highest risk. People with fair hair or blondes with blue or green eyes and people who burn easily are the most likely to get skin cancer.
Melanoma can often be caused by being out in high levels of sunlight. Moles can become malignant or cancerous many years after the skin has been burned which is often after lying in the sun or using a tanning bed. Even one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence can cause skin cancer years later. While previous exposure to the sun or tanning bed is an established risk factor, melanoma and other skin cancer can still occur without overexposure to sun and light. If you have a mole which gets darker, changes color, itches, bleeds, or doesn’t look right, get to a doctor to be checked out.
Always check with a doctor if you have any question or concerns about your skin health.
Information about skin cancer can be found through both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society in the United States.
Melanoma / Skin Cancer Detection & Prevention Month coincide with Melanoma Monday, an annual awareness day on the first Monday of May each year.
While all us at DCACancer.org have had personal experiences with loved ones and cancer, Melanoma is one subject that is particularly close to heart for one of us. With his permission, he has allowed us to share a few details. On May 21, 2012 he was diagnosed with Lentiginous Dysplastic Compound Nevus with Mild to Moderage Atypia, which is a pre-cancer to Melanoma. Thankfully it was spotted early and he was able to have it removed. He will share a few photos in an article posted later this month (we will update this article with the link).