You’ve probably heard of melanoma, which is the most aggressive type of skin cancer. But, maybe you’re not quite sure how the condition develops or who is at risk. For instance, many people associate melanoma with bad sunburns and abnormal moles, but it’s actually much more complicated than that. Melanoma Monday is a good time to review the facts and learn how to protect yourself.
To get started, here are some things you may not know about melanoma:
- It is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in young adults – Even though melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer overall, it is still the most common form of cancer in people ages 25 through 29, and the second most common in people ages 15 through 24. Many experts believe that this is a direct result of the popularity of indoor tanning devices among young adults.
- It is not limited to sun worshippers – People who have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who was diagnosed with melanoma have a heightened risk of developing the condition themselves, whether or not they spend time in the sun.
- It affects individuals with all skin tones – While people who have more pigment in their skin naturally have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, melanoma can develop in areas of the body that have very little skin pigment, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
- It does not always start in an existing mole – Trademark melanoma symptoms include a change in the shape, size or color of a mole. But, people who don’t have a lot of moles are also at risk for developing melanoma, which can sometimes appear as a bruise that doesn’t heal or a dark streak under a fingernail or toenail.
- It can affect areas of the body that are not exposed to the sun – In addition to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, melanoma can form between fingers and toes, as well as in the armpits and on the buttocks and genitals.
- It can be successfully treated when detected early – For this reason, it is vitally important for everyone to be familiar with the signs of melanoma, perform routine skin checks and see a dermatologist regularly for a professional skin exam.
To help raise skin cancer awareness, Moffitt Cancer Center established a mobile screening program called Mole Patrol®, which travels to venues throughout Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, to provide free screenings, education and sunscreen samples to the public.
Moffitt is also home to the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center of Excellence, where more than 30 world-renowned scientists and researchers are continually investigating and developing new methods to prevent, diagnose and treat melanoma. Because our multispecialty team of experts has extensive experience with melanoma, individuals who are concerned about possible symptoms can turn to Moffitt with confidence.
To learn more, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.