What Is Melanoma?

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

“These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 9,940 people in the US annually.”

It’s important to remember that MELANOMA DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE, but some people have a greater risk…

Melanoma can be found in the darkest of skin, and can even present itself as an “amelanotic” mole (i.e. a mole without pigment to give it color) making it appear white or skin-toned. Everyone is at risk for melanoma, and the greatest risk comes from excess UV sun exposure.

Other risk factors include:

  • UV Sun Exposure is the greatest risk! Particularly before the age of 18, but the exposure is additive throughout life. This is what YOU can prevent by covering up and wearing sunscreen!
  • Family History of Melanoma in one or more first degree relatives (parent, brother, sister, or child)
  • Fair Skin, Freckles, Red or Blonde Hair with Blue or Green eyes
  • Skin with many moles
  • Immune System Suppression due to medications or conditions which weaken the immune system