November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month!

Melanoma: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Melanoma: Basics of Prevention and Detection

About 74,000 people receive a melanoma diagnosis every year in America. While it’s the least common type of skin cancer, it’s also the deadliest. Many risk factors are beyond your control, but the most significant—smart sun protection practices—are not. As always with cancer, early detection and intervention is one of the most crucial aspects of successful treatment.

Melanoma Risk Factors

  • Being pale skinned
  • Having many moles, particularly over 50
  • Serious sunburns (starting in childhood)
  • Excessive unprotected exposure to UV radiation in sunlight or tanning aids
  • A previous occurrence of melanoma
  • Living at a high elevation or near the equator
  • A family history of melanoma (especially affecting close relatives)
  • Being infected with HIV or AIDS
  • Having a suppressed immune system

How to Lower Your Risk of Melanoma

  • Limit time in direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed skin
  • Wear protective clothes and accessories (e.g., hats and sunglasses) when in the sun
  • Skip the sunbeds and tanning lamps
  • Have risky moles removed before they have the opportunity to become malignant

Encouraging Early Detection of Melanoma

  • Monitor your skin and moles regularly; see your dermatologist promptly if you notice changes to the look or feel of either
  • See your dermatologist about moles with abnormal borders, multiple colors, a diameter more than ¼ inch, or any changing characteristics
  • Schedule regular appointments so your dermatologist can monitor concerning moles

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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.

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