Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer. Melanoma is serious as this form of cancer can spread to a range of other organs in the body. Melanoma may develop in an existing mole but can also form in normal-looking skin. Melanoma comprises 10% of all cases of skin cancer. However, it is responsible for most skin cancer deaths.
MELANOMA PREVENTION MEANS TAKING CARE IN THE SUN
The best way to prevent melanoma is to avoid exposure to the sun, particularly when the sun is at its hottest. Those unable to avoid spending lengthy time periods in the sun must dress appropriately. They should wear a hat to protect their face and scalp and wear sunglasses to protect their eyes. Those who spend time in the sun should take steps to avoid sunburn.
Individuals planning to spend time in the sun should purchase and use a sunscreen that is suitable for their skin type and protects against both ultraviolet A and B radiation. Sunscreen should be administered 15 minutes before being exposed to the sun and then every two hours after.
The majority of trained health professionals will inform their patients to avoid sunbathing altogether as even a slight tan can raise the risk of developing melanoma. The use of sunbeds and sunlamps can also cause melanoma. Sunbeds and lamps can prove to be more dangerous than exposure to natural sunlight as they utilize a concentrated source of ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation can raise the risk of developing moles cancerous and can cause premature skin aging.
MELANOMA: CHECK YOUR SKIN REGULARLY
It is essential for everyone to check their skin, particularly their moles, for signs of change. A change in the shape, size or color of a mole can be an indication of a melanoma. Anyone concerned about a change in their skin should consult with their family physician. A physician will assess their skin and refer them onto a specialist skin doctor, known as a dermatologist, if necessary.
A dermatologist may create a mole map for an individual – a medical record of the lesions, moles, and/or dark areas on the body. This record is useful when diagnosing melanoma. It can also be used as a baseline which is able to compared against future images to determine whether there have been any significant skin changes.