Did you know that melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer? Did you also know that everyone is at risk of developing melanoma? While some of us are most susceptible to this skin disease than others, unfortunately no one is invincible when it comes to cancer of any kind.
Who’s At Risk?
No one ever wants to receive the life altering news that they have skin cancer. And unfortunately, families with a history of melanoma are more prone to developing it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if it runs in your family, you’re guaranteed to receive the diagnosis, but it does mean that you should take special care of your skin. Additional risk factors include old age, fair skin, having more than 50 moles on your body, or having large/atypical moles.
Luckily, there are ways that you can either catch melanoma early on – greatly increasing your chances of beating the nasty disease – or avoid it altogether. To ensure that you are doing all that you can to reduce your risk of melanoma (whether it runs in your family or not), follow the advice below.
Perform a Monthly Self-Skin Examination
If you have moles on your arms, neck, back, legs or other areas typically exposed to sunlight, keep an eye on the color of them – especially if they are large in size or atypical. Look for uneven colored moles or moles that have become darker in color over time. Also keep an eye on the size of the mole you have in question and pay close attention to any moles that have a jagged, sharp or notched border.
If you do find any moles that change in color, size or border, be sure to bring this news to your dermatologist’s attention right away.
Yearly skin testing is highly recommended to help catch melanoma in its early stages, or to ensure you don’t have it. The older you get, the more frequent testing should be.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
We’re not saying you have to shelter yourself completely from the sun, but we do want you to follow the sun safety tips mentioned in our recent blog post (LINK TO SUMMER SUN POST). Regardless of season, if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, use SPF 30 sunscreen or higher.
If you have never been tested for skin cancer before, or if you have a mole in question that you’d like to bring to your dermatologist’s attention, please call WNY Dermatology right away at 716-831-2600.