Knowledge for health
Understanding Melanoma: The Signs Symptoms, and Risk Factors.
May 23rd, 2022
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.1 Characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells2, melanoma accounts approximately 2% of cancer cases worldwide.3
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin, including areas without sun exposure, but it is more likely to start in certain places.1,2
The average age of people when diagnosed with melanoma is 65 years. But this type of cancer is not rare in those under 30. It is one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women)4
Rates have been increasing for the last 30 years5,6
Knowledge for health
A new skin spot (one that changes in size, shape, or color; or that is a major warning sign of melanoma) should be checked by a doctor. The ABCDE rule describes the characteristics of moles that may be melanoma and is a helpful guide to managing skin changes:7
One half of the stain is different than the other half.
The spot has an irregular, wavy, or ill-defined border.
The stain has variable colors from one area to another.
Although melanom as usually measure 6 millimeters, that is, the size of a pencil eraser, when they are diagnosed they can be smaller.
The spot looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.
Any of fthese warning signs should be discussed with a doctor, especially if you fell in risk of melanoma.7
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
- Light skin, freckles and light hair
- Family background
- Personal history of melanoma or other skin cancers
- Weakened immune system
- Male sex
- Xeroderma pigmentosum (a rare skin disease that affects the skin’s ability to repair DNA damage)
Ways to reduce risk
Melanoma cannot be completely prevented, but there are ways to reduce the risk. The main way is to protect against ultraviolet
(UV) rays, which damage the DNA of cells and affect the genes that control the growth of cells in the skin. The main source of UV
rays is the sun. Hence the importance of sun protection every time you go out, even on cloudy days as UV rays can still affect you.
Here are some ways to protect yourself:9,10
Look for the shadow
Exposure to UV rays is greatest
between 10 am and 4 pm. If you
need to be outside during these
hours, seek shade, under a tree,
umbrella or awning.
Wear a hat
Try to find a hat with a wide
brim, at least 5 to 8 cm wide, to
protect your face.
Choose tight-knit knitwear and
avoid shirts that can be seen
through. Remember, if light
passes through clothing, then
UV rays do too.
For prolonged outdoor activity,
use a broad spectrum
Protect your eyes and the sensitive
skin around them. Choose
sunglasses that block UV and UVB
rays as close to 100% as possible.
- Summa Health 2022. Skin Cancer. Disponible en: https://www.summahealth.org/medicalservices/cancer/cancer-care/skin-cancer. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. Whats is Melanoma Skin Cancer. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/abouVwhat-is-melanoma.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- GLOBOCAN 2020. Melanoma of skin fact sheet. The Global Cancer Observatory. 2020. Disponible en: https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/16-Melanoma-of-skin-fact-sheet.pdf. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. Melanoma Skin Cancer Statistics. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- Cancer.Net. Melanoma Statistics, 2021. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/melanoma/statistics. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- Ward W; Farma J. Cutaneous Melanoma – Etiology and Therapy. Codon Publications 2017.Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.15586/codon.cutaneousmelanoma.2017
- American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. Can Melanoma Skin Cancer Be Prevented?. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/uv-radiation.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.
- American Cancer Society. How Do I Protect Myself from Ultraviolet (UV) Rays?. Disponible en: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun/uv-protection.html. Consultado el 20 de abril del 2022.