Melanoma, a particularily aggressive form of skin cancer, is becoming far more common - your lifetime risk is now one in 62. Despite advances in cancer treatments over the last decade and the increased awareness of skin cancer, the survival rate for melanoma has not improved.
The risk of developing melanoma increases with age. However, it is also frequently seen in young people.
You are more likely to develop melanoma if you:
Other risk factors include:
A mole, sore, lump, or growth on the skin can be a sign of melanoma or other skin cancer. A sore or growth that bleeds, or changes in skin coloring may also be a sign of skin cancer. The ABCDE system can help you remember possible symptoms of melanoma:
The key to successfully treating melanoma is recognizing symptoms early. You might not notice a small spot if you don't look carefully. Have yearly body checks by a dermatologist, and examine your skin once a month. Use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see places. Call your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Skin Cancer Screenings
Northside Hospital offers Free skin cancer screenings throughout the year. Participants will be offered full or partial body assessments, conducted in private settings by licensed medical staff and physicians. Download our current schedule or visit our Classes & Events calendar.
More safety tips to protect your skin:
Schedule your “sun time” for before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when exposure is less harmful. If you are outside during “peak” hours, seek shade or a covered area, instead of being in direct sun.
Wear (and reapply) sunscreen. Choose a product with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, applying at least 20 minutes before going outside. When you can, reapply every two hours, especially if you will be sweating or swimming. Protect yourself on overcast days, too. UV rays still travel through clouds.
Remember that skin cancer can occur in places you don’t expect – the backs of your hands and feet, eyelids, ears, in between your toes and your lips. Be thorough with sunscreen.
Accessorize. Wear tightly woven, bright-colored clothing that covers most of the body. These are more effective at blocking the suns rays and preventing unnecessary exposure. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants when in the sun. Choose wrap-around sunglasses that absorb at least 100% of UV rays to help protect your eyes and the surrounding skin.
Check your medications. Some, including acne treatment and birth control, can make your skin extra sensitive to sun exposure. Check with your doctor to see if your medication may have such an effect.
Ditch the tanning bed. With or without sunscreen, tanning beds can damage your skin, putting you at increased risk for cancer. Continued tanning exposure can bring wrinkles, brown spots, blotchiness and leathery looking skin.