Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide. The number of people under the age of 30 developing melanoma has increased by 50 percent since 1980. The American Cancer Society estimates that the risk of developing invasive melanoma in the United States is 1 in 41 and 1 in 61 for men and women, respectively. This averages out to approximately a 1 in 50 chance of developing melanoma throughout your lifetime. Melanoma primarily affects individuals in the prime years of life. Specifically, it is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
Exposure to ultraviolet rays from natural or artificial sources is one of the greatest contributors to developing melanoma. In addition family history, genetics and environmental factors play a role in causing melanoma.
What should I look for?
Most moles, and skin spots are usually harmless, however there are certain characteristics that can be deemed suspicious for melanoma.
A – Asymmetry
B – Borders that are irregular
C – Color that varies within the same mole
D – Diameter greater than 6mm
E – Evolving mole that is changing over time
During our skin cancer screening, a complete history and physical will be performed. The causes and risk factors of melanoma will be reviewed and then a head to toe skin examination will be performed looking for signs and symptoms of melanoma. Any lesion warranting further examination can be biopsied in our office with minimal pain.
Anyone who has more than 100 moles is at greater risk for melanoma. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles. For patients with several moles, we offer a photographic surveillance program in which your moles are photographed and then compared during your subsequent visits. This allows detection of small changes in your moles that may be a sign of melanoma.