Melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer with the ability to rapidly spread to other organs if not treated in the early stages. Early detection is the cornerstone of Skin Cancer Awareness Month which occurs annually every May. Even though there are several types of skin cancers, melanoma is one of the most common. Nestled in this time of elevated awareness is Melanoma Monday, which takes place on the first Monday in May.
More About Melanoma
The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds causes skin damage that triggers special skin cells to produce more melanin. This darkens or tans the skin as a protective measure. Over time, the damage from UV radiation triggers changes in the melanin-producing skin cells, resulting in uncontrolled cellular growth.
Melanoma growths come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, so spotting the warning signs can be tricky. Detecting melanoma early is vital, but you can use the “ABCDEs of Melanoma,” which provide some guidance:
- Asymmetry: Most melanomas are asymmetrical.
- Border: Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges.
- Color: Multiple colors are a warning sign.
- Diameter or Dark: Lesions larger than the size of a pencil eraser or ones darker than others.
- Evolving: Any change in size, shape, or color.
A World Without Skin Cancer
Over 5 million individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. It is the most common type of cancer. But there is hope in those staggering numbers because most cases of skin cancer are preventable. Skin Cancer Awareness Month speaks out about the dangers of skin cancer by sharing the facts about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and encouraging people to check their skin for warning signs. Together, we can save lives and grow closer to the reality of a world without skin cancer.
There are so many ways you can help, too, starting right in your own home with your family and friends. Collectively, you can work together to create a routine for sun safety and early intervention. Protecting your skin involves a combination of safety methods because no one method provides 100% protection. These include:
- Sun Safety Precautions:
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when outdoors. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating excessively.
- Dark, thicker fabric offers the best protection. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Clothing with a UPF of 50 or more provides excellent protection too.
- Seek shade when possible and avoid being in the sun for long periods when the UV rays are the strongest (10 am-4 pm).
- Early Intervention:
- Skin cancer is something you can see and is highly curable when found early. Monthly head-to-toe self-skin checks help you spot any new, changing, or unusual spots. You can encourage others by using the hashtag #SkinCheckChallenge in your social media posts.
- If you find any concerns, talk with your dermatologist immediately.
Skin Cancer Experts
Texas Dermatology has board-certified dermatologists that are experts in detecting and treating the various types of skin cancer. Whether you want to learn more about your skin cancer risk or are concerned about a growth you found during your self-check, we can help.
In honor of Melanoma Monday, call us at (210) 829-5180 or request an appointment online through our portal.