Understanding Melanoma: The Most Serious Form of Skin Cancer
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that can spread quickly to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma, such as changes in the size, shape, or color of moles or other skin lesions, and to see a doctor if you notice any unusual changes. Protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding tanning beds can also help reduce your risk of developing melanoma.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if not detected and treated early. It is important to raise awareness about this disease in order to promote prevention and early detection. In this article, we will explore the impact of melanoma on individuals and communities, and provide information on how to protect yourself from this disease.
Understanding Melanoma and Its Causes.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce pigment in the skin. It is often caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Other risk factors include having fair skin, a history of sunburns, a weakened immune system, and a family history of melanoma. It is important to protect your skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and avoiding tanning beds. Early detection is key to successful treatment, so it is important to regularly check your skin for any changes or abnormalities.
The Importance of Early Detection and Treatment.
Early detection and treatment of melanoma can make a significant difference in a person’s prognosis and quality of life. When melanoma is caught early, it is often treatable with surgery alone. However, if it is not detected until later stages, it can spread to other parts of the body and become much more difficult to treat. This is why it is crucial to regularly check your skin for any changes or abnormalities and to seek medical attention if you notice anything suspicious. By raising awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment, we can help prevent the devastating impact of melanoma on individuals and communities.
The Emotional Toll of Melanoma on Individuals and Families.
Melanoma not only has a physical impact on individuals, but it can also take a significant emotional toll on them and their families. The fear and uncertainty that come with a melanoma diagnosis can be overwhelming, and the treatment process can be long and difficult. Patients may experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges as they navigate their diagnosis and treatment. Family members and loved ones may also experience emotional distress as they support their loved one through this difficult time. It is important for individuals and families affected by melanoma to seek support and resources to help them cope with the emotional impact of the disease.
The Economic Impact of Melanoma on Communities.
In addition to the physical and emotional impact on individuals, melanoma also has a significant economic impact on communities. The cost of treating melanoma can be high, and the disease can result in lost productivity and income for patients and their families. Additionally, melanoma can lead to increased healthcare costs for communities and insurance providers. It is important for communities to prioritize melanoma prevention and early detection efforts to reduce the economic burden of the disease.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself and Your Community.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your community from the impact of melanoma. First and foremost, it is important to practice sun safety by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and seeking shade during peak sun hours. Additionally, regular skin checks and early detection can greatly improve outcomes for individuals with melanoma. Finally, supporting melanoma research and prevention efforts in your community can help reduce the economic burden of the disease and improve overall health outcomes.
MELANOMA SYMPTOMS and SIGNS
Changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole are often the first warning signs of melanoma. These changes can occur in an existing mole, or melanoma may appear as a new or unusual-looking mole. The “ABCDE” rule is helpful in remembering the warning signs of melanoma:
- Asymmetry. The shape of one-half of the mole does not match the other.
- Border. The edges are ragged, notched, uneven, or blurred.
- Color. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, or blue may also be seen.
- Diameter. The diameter is usually larger than 6 millimeters (mm) or has grown in size. This is about 1/4 inch in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser. Melanoma may be smaller when it is first detected.
- Evolving. The mole has been changing in size, shape, color, or appearance, or it is growing in an area of previously normal skin. Also, when melanoma develops in an existing mole, the texture of the mole may change and become hard or lumpy. The skin lesion may feel different and may itch, ooze, or bleed, but a melanoma skin lesion usually does not cause pain.
When to see a doctor
Many melanomas are dark brown or black and are often described as changing, different, unusual, or “ugly looking,” meaning that it looks different from the typical moles a person has. However, any skin abnormality that is growing or changing quickly and does not go away, whether colored or not, should be examined by a doctor. Bleeding may be a sign of more advanced melanoma. In addition, the appearance of a new and unusual mole is more likely to be melanoma.
If you are concerned about a new or existing mole, please talk with your family doctor or a dermatologist. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions, and examine the mole. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis, and whether a biopsy is recommended.
Courtesy of Cancer.net
Skin Cancer Facts from SkinCancer.Org
Get the facts about skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to skin cancer, so make sure you know all the facts. You can #SharetheFacts on social media by downloading images from our Skin Cancer Awareness Toolkit. For the latest news, visit our Press Room.
- In the U.S., more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. More than two people die of the disease every hour.1,2, 9
- More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.1
- More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.2
- At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.3
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.4
- The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.5
- It’s estimated that the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2023 will decrease by 5.6 percent.2
- The number of melanoma deaths is expected to increase by 4.4 percent in 2023. 2
- An estimated 186,680 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2023. Of those, 89,070 cases will be in situ (noninvasive), confined to the epidermis (the top layer of skin), and 97,610 cases will be invasive, penetrating the epidermis into the skin’s second layer (the dermis). Of the invasive cases, 58,120 will be men and 39,490 will be women.2
- In the past decade (2013 – 2023), the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 27 percent.2,37
- An estimated 7,990 people will die of melanoma in 2023. Of those, 5,420 will be men and 2,570 will be women.2
- The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.12
- Compared with stage I melanoma patients treated within 30 days of being biopsied, those treated 30 to 59 days after biopsy have a 5 percent higher risk of dying from the disease, and those treated more than 119 days after biopsy have a 41 percent higher risk.13
- Across all stages of melanoma, the average five-year survival rate in the U.S. is 94 percent. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is over 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 71 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 32 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.2
- Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.14
- On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns,15 but just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.39
- Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.16
- Melanoma accounts for 6 percent of new cancer cases in men, and 4 percent of new cancer cases in women. 2
- Men age 49 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer but colon and rectum cancers.2
- From ages 15 to 39, men are 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than women in the same age group.17
- Women age 49 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other cancer except breast and thyroid cancers.2
- From age 50 on, significantly more men develop melanoma than women. The majority of people who develop melanoma are white men over age 55. But until age 49, significantly more non-Hispanic white women develop melanoma than white men (one in 162 women versus one in 246 men). Overall, one in 28 white men and one in 41 white women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.2