Facts about Melanoma
Q. What Is Melanoma?
A. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can then spread to other areas of the body. Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes. Other names for this cancer include malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma. Most melanoma cells still make melanin, so melanoma tumors are usually brown or black. But some melanomas do not make melanin and can appear pink, tan, or even white. Melanoma can often be found early, when it is most likely to be cured. Some people have a higher risk of getting melanoma than others, but it’s important to know that anyone can get melanoma.
Q. Is Melanoma A Serious Disease?
A. More than 73% of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. Advanced melanoma spreads to internal organs and may result in death. One person each hour dies from melanoma. If detected in the early stages, melanoma can usually be treated successfully.
Q. Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
A.Unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer, or a warning that it might occur. A normal mole is usually an evenly colored brown, tan, or black spot on the skin. It can be either flat or raised. It can be round or oval. Moles are generally less than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch) across (about the width of a pencil eraser). New moles that appear later in life should be checked by a doctor. Once a mole has developed, it will usually stay the same size, shape, and color for many years. Some moles may eventually fade away. Most people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless. But it’s important to recognize changes in a mole – such as in its size, shape, or color – that can suggest a melanoma may be developing. The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin.
Q. What Causes Melanoma?
A. Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun is the most important preventable cause of melanoma. People in southern regions, where the sunlight is more intense, are more likely to develop melanoma than those in northern regions. Melanoma has also been linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 18 years of life. Other possible causes include genetic factors and immune system deficiencies.
- Melanoma is the least common but the most deadly skin cancer, accounting for only about 1% of all cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer death.
- Approximately 1 in 5 will be diagnosed with melanoma during their life.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 20-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
- In 2016, it is estimated that there will be 76,380 new cases of melanoma in the United States and 10,130 deaths from the disease.
- An estimated 1 in 6 cancer patients will lose their lifesavings paying for treatment.
- One person dies of melanoma every 52 mins.