Melanoma (Skin Cancer)

Facts

  • If detected in earlier stages, is 100 % treatable
  • Higher survival rate than any other cancer
  • Most common type of cancer among all cancers

Risk Factors

  • Ultraviolet (UV) Light Exposure: UV radiation comes from sunlight while also from tanning lamps and booths.  UV radiation damages the genes in your skin cells.  People with high levels of exposure to light from these sources are at greater risk for skin cancer including melanoma.
  • Moles: A mole is non-cancerous pigment-producing tumor. Moles are typically not present at birth.  Most moles will never cause any problems, but a person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
  • Appearance: Fair skinned, freckled, light - colored hair individuals are more prone to getting sunburned and are at higher risk for skin cancer.
  • Family History:  The risk of melanoma is greater if 1 or more of your first –degree relatives (mother, father, sibling, child) has been diagnosed with melanoma.  The increased risk might be due to a shared family lifestyle of frequent sun exposure, family tendency to have fair skin, or a combination of both factors.

Prevention 

  • Monthly Self-Examination (You should examine your skin once a month.  Look for pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks so that you’ll notice any new moles or changes in moles already present.  Follow the ABC’s of Melanoma to identify abnormal moles.)
  • Yearly Professional Examination If you or your family have a history of melanoma, schedule a visit with a dermatologist
  • Practice safe sun habits 

 

Sun Safety Tips

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear a protective lip balm of SPF 15 or higher
  • Put on sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection
  • When you are doing activities outdoors use an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply at least every 2 hours if you’re at the beach, swimming, or spending a lot of time in the sun.

 

Sunscreen info

  • There are 2 types of UV light that can harm our skin (UVA and UVB)
  • A “broad-spectrum” or “full-spectrum” sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF – Sun Protection Factor. It measures how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays.  (Example – If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes with no sunscreen, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could possibly go 150 minutes before burning).
  • It’s important to note that sunscreen is not a “catch-all”. So you should still try to seek shade, wear protective clothing and continue to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

 

Sunscreen application

  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin, 30 minutes before you go outside.
  • Use sunscreen on all exposed skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and more often if you’re sweating or swimming.
  • Make sure you reapply immediately after you get out of the pool.
  • Sand, water and snow reflect sunlight and make it even more important to use sunscreen.
  • Since UVA rays penetrate glass and clouds, use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy, or you’re in a room with lots of windows, or riding in the car
  • You can apply sunscreen to children as young as 6 months. Ask your doctor about proper sun protection for children under 6 months.

Treatment

Once melanoma has been diagnosed and staged, your cancer care team will recommend treatment options. They may include one or more of the following:

 

Be Proactive.

As with most cancer, early detection is the best protection.  Talk to your doctor today about your skin health.  If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, ask your doctor about your treatment options.

Source: American Cancer Society 

 

© Summit Health - All rights reserved