Here Comes the Sun: Taking Shade Against Melanoma, Skin Cancers
It’s not the most prevalent types of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most dangerous type of the disease.
Melanoma accounts for just two percent of skin cancer cases but claims up to 13,000 American lives annually, according to the American Cancer Society. It develops in the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. But it also can be found in the eyes or the lining of some internal organs.
“Melanomas can occur on almost any area of the body, including areas that don’t get much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds,” said Juliana Meyer, MD, melanoma surgeon with Franciscan Physician Network and director of the Melanoma Clinic at Franciscan Health Cancer Center in Indianapolis. Melanomas are usually black or brown in color but can be pink, red or purple.”
People at risk of getting melanoma are those with fair skin, a history of sunburn, frequent exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds, and people who live at high elevations or close to the equator. Also, people with a family history of melanoma and those who have many moles are at higher risk.
Reducing the risks of the disease is paramount – and simple. Such measures include wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) year-round; avoiding sun exposure during the middle of the day; and wearing sun-protective clothing and sunglasses.
Self-monitoring of moles and other markings on the skin helps with early detection of the disease. A clinical diagnosis initially is made by the appearance on the skin, which can be confirmed with a biopsy.