Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that affects approximately 5% of people diagnosed with skin cancer. Melanoma is also attributed to over 75% of all skin cancer deaths each year.
In many cases, melanoma can be prevented by lowering exposure to risk factors. The major risk factor for developing any skin cancer is exposure to UV rays. UV rays are found in sunlight and are also in tanning beds and lamps. Wearing sunscreen when outdoors, staying out of the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.), and if you have to be outside, try to seek shade.
Melanoma is treatable when detected early. Moles or other spots on the skin should be self examined each month. Look for any changes in the existing areas and look for new moles.
When doing a self examination, you need to look at all areas of the body. It helps to have a mirror to view all parts of the body. Look for any changes to color, shape, and size to any freckle, mole, blemish or reddened areas. It is helpful to know the ABC's of skin cancer. The ABC's stand for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diamter and Elevation.Sometimes these areas may be itchy, scaly, or even have a crusty appearance.
If bleeding or oozing comes from a mole or spot, it is imperative that it be examined by a physician. This is often indicative of advanced melanoma and needs to be evaluated.
Sometimes, it is difficult to discern between an ordinary mole and a melanoma. If you have any doubt, it is important to have it checked out by a physician. Skin should be examined for any suspicious areas by a physician on a yearly basis, if skin cancer has never been diagnosed.