May is Melanoma Awareness Month and while it’s good to be aware of melanoma every month, take a moment to learn about common risk factors and when to see a dermatologist.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer — the deadliest form of it. It can occur anywhere and does not discriminate based on age, sex, or race.
While this might sound alarmist, it’s important to be aware and take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones. In addition to scheduling regular skin checks, here are four factors to look out for:
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth reiterating: The sun’s rays — both UVA and UVB — are dangerous.
UVA rays are longer and cause the skin to tan. UVA sun damage can be unexpected: You may not feel any pain or discomfort from sunburn, but your skin is still at risk. UVB rays, on the other hand, are shorter and have slightly more energy. These rays cause sunburns.
Both types, however, do considerable damage and have a direct link to skin cancer. The more exposed your skin is to the sun, the more at risk you are for developing melanoma.
Weakened Immune System
The immune system helps fight and protect us from disease. Unfortunately, those who are already vulnerable to illness and ailment are also more at risk for developing melanoma. This is because if the immune system is weak, it may not be able to effectively destroy cancer cells in the body, allowing them to multiply and grow.
While anyone can develop skin cancer, if you have a family history of melanoma or other cancers, it’s imperative you pay extra attention to your skin. According to the American Cancer Society, around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.
Although the exact link isn’t known, experts believe that this could be due to shared genetic mutations, similar lifestyles, certain features (such as fair hair and skin), or a combination. Either way, learning about your family’s skin cancer history can help you identify potential risks.
Don’t panic! Not every mole is cause for concern, but if you notice a new or shifting mark on yourself, it may be time to make a trip to the dermatologist. When it comes to determining your risk, know your ABCDEs:
Asymmetry: The mole has a different shape or color on each side.
Border: The edge of the mole is uneven.
Color: The mole has multiple shades and colors.
Diameter: The size of the mole grows larger.
Evolving: Any aspect of the mole changes.
If you notice any of the ABCDEs, you could be at risk for melanoma.
Whether you’re looking for peace of mind, have more questions, or want to have something specific looked at, give us a call and book your skin check today: (208) 888-0660.