Understanding Melanoma: Comprehensive Guide to Prevention and Early Detection

Learn what you need to know about the causes of melanoma as well as how to prevent it and maybe save a life!
dermatologist looking at a mole

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer and the reason behind why UV Skinz was started, is a serious health concern that definitely demands our attention. Our  blog post today was created to provide you with more information about melanoma, risk factors, prevention methods, and available treatments. Continue reading to learn what board-certified dermatologists have to say about melanoma. 

What Is Melanoma?

According to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Yoo, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And every day, 20 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. These cells are responsible for the color of your skin, hair, and eyes. When melanocytes undergo malignant transformation, they can form cancerous growths known as melanomas.

Melanoma is often called “the most serious skin cancer” because it has a tendency to spread which is why early diagnosis and treatment are so important. 

How Do You Get Melanoma?

Melanoma is often associated with excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (UVA and UVB rays) from the sun or artificial sources of UV light like tanning beds. However, according to dermatologists, there are other risk factors to consider:

  • Genetics: A family history of melanoma may increase your risk.
  • Moles: The presence of numerous moles or atypical moles 
  • Fair Skin: People with fair skin, light eyes, and light hair are generally more susceptible to melanoma.
  • Immunosuppression: Weakened immune systems, whether due to medical conditions or medications, can contribute to a higher risk. 

Melanoma Detection and Signs

According to Dr. Yoo, early detection is crucial with melanoma. She encourages regular self-examinations and professional skin checks. She also recommended to look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole or spot doesn't match the other.
  • (Mole) Border Irregularity: The edges are uneven or different.
  • Color: Multiple colors within the mole (shades of brown, black, or even pink and red).
  • Diameter: Melanomas are often larger than a pencil eraser (6 mm).
  • Evolving: Any changes in size, shape, color, or elevation should be monitored.

How Do You Prevent Melanoma?

Prevention is one of the best ways to avoid getting melanoma. Remember to wear sun protective clothing and swimwear with a high UPF rating as well as broad-spectrum sunscreen - don't forget to reapply! Here are some additional tips:

Melanoma Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the stage of melanoma but may include:

Mohs Surgery: Removal of the melanoma and surrounding tissue.

Immunotherapy: Boosting the body's immune system to fight cancer.

Chemotherapy: Medications to kill cancer cells or stop their growth.

You can check out our My Story series to learn from survivors of skin cancer and melanoma on our blog!

Melanoma can be serious, but if you know the warning signs you can get rid of it. By understanding how to prevent melanoma, learning early detection signs, and committing yourself to sun-safe practices, you can help save your life or the life of others.

Stay informed, protect your skin from the sun, and encourage others to do the same. Together, we can make strides in the fight against melanoma!