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With summer near, the concern arises for melanoma risk. Melanoma
is a form of cancer, which arises from a normal cell called the
Melanocyte. The incidence is rising despite the increased use of
sun protection-30,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each
year. Caucasians, especially fair skin individuals, people with
a family history of melanoma, or those with multiple moles, are
at an increased risk. Also, women are slightly more at risk than
their male counterparts. In reality, those who are episodic "sun
worshippers" and burn easily are more at risk than steady,
continuous tanners. Inner city and office workers are more at risk
than "outside" workers. The common factor is severity
and number of burns.
Melanoma usually presents as a mole or skin lesion, which has a
change in shape, color, size, or texture, or bleeds. The areas of
concern are usually found in skin regions exposed to the sun such
as the arms, legs, or face. It is wise to remember, however, that
they may be found elsewhere in places like the torso, back and even
under the nails. Any lesion of concern should be examined by your
family doctor or dermatologist.
The earlier a melanoma lesion is identified and treated, the better
the outcome. If found early, the majority of melanomas can be surgically
cured. The wisest recommendation is prevention and following the
advice of the American Academy of Dermatology for safe sun exposure.
These recommendations include always wearing sunscreen of at least
SPF 15 when out in the sun; minimizing sun exposure during the most
intense times of the day - 10a.m. to 4 p.m.; taking caution with
sun exposure on hazy days; always wearing protective, light clothing
and including sunglasses as a vital part of any wardrobe. People
should also take caution in areas where there is reflected sunlight,
such as on water or snow. Have a fun and safe summer!