Melanoma Monday – May 2, 2016
To raise awareness of Melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and to encourage early detection through self-exams, the American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday.
Cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.
Here are the American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2016:
- About 76,380 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 46,870 in men and 29,510 in women).
- About 10,130 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 6,750 men and 3,380 women).
The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.
Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.4% (1 in 40) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics.”
The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age at the time it is found is 62. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women). (American Cancer Society)
Recognition of changes in the skin is the best way to detect early melanoma. They most frequently appear on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head and neck. In females 15-29 years old, the torso/trunk is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be due to high-risk tanning behaviors. If you have a changing mole, a new mole or a mole that is different from the rest, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.
If you notice a mole on your skin, you should follow the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:
- Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
- Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
- Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tan, brown or black are often present. Dashes of red, white, and blue can add to the mottled appearance.
- Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
- Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
The American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone to examine their skin regularly. This means looking over your entire body, including your back, your scalp, your palms, your soles and between your toes. (American Academy of Dermatology)
If you notice a mole different from others, or one that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible.
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