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Melanoma Awareness- May 2015 Cancer Demystified

Every year in the United States, 80,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer resulting in 13,000 estimated deaths yearly.  Melanoma is a particular type of skin cancer that begins in the pigment cells of your skin and can develop in anyone, regardless of skin color. 

The most important warning sign for melanoma is any change in size, shape, or color of a mole. Melanoma can grow anywhere on the body. It most often occurs on the upper back in men and women and on the legs in women. Less often, it can grow in other places, such as on the soles of feet and palms of hands.

Melanoma and other skin cancers result from damage to the skin cells, most often by UV radiation found in sunlight and tanning beds.  Some risk factors for melanoma include:

  1. Fair skin that sunburns easily, along with blonde or red hair, freckles, and fair colored eyes.
  2. History of blistering sunburns.
  3. Excessive exposure to the sun.
  4. Moles.
  5. Weak immune system, such as transplant patients and patients with HIV/AIDS.
  6. Family history of skin cancer

There are several ways to protect yourself from the sun such as avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are the strongest, wear sunscreen year around, wear protective clothing, avoid tanning beds, and check your skin monthly for any changes.

Please remember, a tan is your skin’s response to injury.  It is not a sign of good health. Therefore, be bold and embrace your pale!

Posted In: Cancer Demystified by Dr. Kris Gast
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