Welcome to the Patient Education Library of Texas Medical Institute
Skin Cancer - Melanoma
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It occurs when the melanocytes in the skin grow abnormally and out of control. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and a history of childhood sunburns contribute to the development of melanoma. Researchers are finding that some people may inherit genes that lead to melanoma formation.
Melanomas that are small, shallow, detected early, and treated early have very good cure rates. Untreated melanomas are very aggressive and fast growing. The cancer can quickly spread throughout the body resulting in life threatening complications and death.
A- Asymmetry: One half of the abnormal area does not match the other half.
B- Border Irregularity: The growth or mole has uneven, notched, ragged, or irregular edges.
C- Color: The abnormal area or mole contains different colors instead of one solid color.
There may be different shades of tan, brown, black, red, blue, or white.
D- Diameter: The mole or abnormal growth is larger than ¼ inch across. However, some melanomas may be smaller.
Am I at RiskHaving one or more risk factors increases your likelihood of developing melanoma, although some people that experience this skin cancer may not have any risk factors. People with all of the risk factors may never develop melanoma; however, the likelihood increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for melanoma:
_____ People with light colored skin (Caucasians), blue eyes, green eyes, gray eyes, blond hair, or red hair have an increased risk for developing skin cancer. However, people with darker complexions and dark hair may get skin cancer as well, but they have a lower risk.
_____ People that spent three or more summers as a teenager working in the sun, such as construction workers, farmers, fishermen, and lifeguards have an increased chance for developing melanoma.
_____ Too much exposure from UV radiation in sunlight or tanning lamps is a risk factor for melanoma. This includes people that suntan outdoors, use artificial tanning lights, and
outdoor sport enthusiasts.
_____ Receiving three or more blistering sunburns before the age of 20 is a risk factor for developing melanoma.
_____ People that have had skin cancer, including melanoma, are at risk for developing melanoma.
_____ People with suppressed immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients or people that have AIDS, have an increased risk for melanoma.
_____ Your risk for melanoma increases with age. Most cases develop in people that are older, but it certainly can develop in younger people.
_____ People with 50 or more moles or some large moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
_____ People with freckled skin, especially on the shoulders, have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
_____ Melanoma can run in families. If your close relatives have melanoma, you have an increased risk for developing it.
_____ People with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare genetic disorder, have an increased risk for developing melanoma.
_____ Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that can turn into melanoma.
_____ People with dysplastic or atypical moles are at an increased risk for developing melanoma.
Copyright © - iHealthSpot Interactive - www.iHealthSpot.com
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.