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Warning Signs of Melanoma, The Most Deadly Form Of Skin Cancer

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Warning Signs of Melanoma, The Most Deadly Form Of Skin Cancer
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Even with all the incredible advancements of medical technology and research, cancer remains one of the leading problems of modern health. Melanoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer and is the most dangerous, especially when victims overlook the early symptoms.

It is accountable for more than ¾ of all skin cancer related deaths. More than 76,000 cases are expected to develop in the United States in the following year alongside almost 10,000 melanoma related deaths. Melanoma rates have consistently risen in previous years, but learning how to spot it early can save your life.

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Risk Factors

Detecting melanoma in its earliest stages can significantly increase your likeliness for survival. People who began treatment in the earliest stage have a five year survival rate of almost 100 percent and a ten year survival rate of about 95 percent. In the worsened stages those numbers drop to about 15 and 20 percent.

There are several different factors that can contribute to the development of melanoma skin cancer. They range from controlled aspects of life to involuntary biological dispositions. Though it isn’t clear which factor holds the highest risk, physicians have narrowed the key contributors to melanoma to the ones listed below:

Age

Overall melanoma is much more commonly developed with older people. However this doesn’t mean younger people are exempt. It is one of the most common types of cancer to affect people under the age of 30, particularly women.

Gender

According to the American Cancer Society, before the age of 40, the risk is higher for women, while after this age the risk is higher in men. It is more likely for a young female to get melanoma, probably because of tanning, but overall men have a worse outcome when compared with females. The reasons for this difference is yet to be understood.

Moles

Moles are small brown clusters of pigment cells that group together on the skin and are fairly common among the average adult. The majority of moles pose no risk to your health but melanoma can develop in a once healthy mole. There is also a type of mole called a dysplastic nevi which is a benign mole, but people who have these moles are at increased risk of developing melanoma.

Ultraviolet Light

This is believed to be one of the most common contributors of skin cancer. Exposure to UV rays from tanning salons and direct sunlight can lead to damage in the genetic makeup cells of your skin. If the rays damage the DNA regulating the growth of skin cells, it can quickly lead to cancer. There are several types of UV rays but none of them are safe for the skin.

Light Skin and Fair Hair

Caucasians with light skin tones are much more vulnerable to the effects of melanoma. Red and blond hair as well as freckled pale skin are indicators that you may face a higher risk.

Family History

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Approximately one tenth of patients diagnosed with melanoma have some sort of genetic history. The hereditary condition can easily be passed down to younger relatives. Ask around to find out if members of your family have dealt with melanoma.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma (Mole vs. Melanoma)

With any type of cancer acting sooner than later has favorable results. This holds especially true for Melanoma.

Consider some of the following signs of onset melanoma as per doctors from Mayo Clinic:

Check for Moles – Most moles are normal but there are a few indicators that one might foreshadow melanoma. When new moles form or older moles begin to change, the following criteria of the ABCDE analysis should gauge your concern:

A – asymmetry – the 2 halves of the mole don’t look the same

B – border irregularity – black skin spots, dark patches, moles, or large freckles that have an irregular border or blurred outline.

C – color change

D – diameter – see if there is a new growth in a mole

E – enlarged or elevated

If a mole exhibits any of these traits, it requires a close look by a physician to be safe. New moles that grow in quickly and any that itch and bleed should also be taken into consideration.

Persistent Sores – When inflammatory sores form and refuse to go away despite treatment attempts.

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Check Your Fingernails – Sometimes melanoma can signal its development with the formation of black and brown marks underneath the toe and fingernails. Read also the article about 11 health warnings your fingernails may be sending.

Bruises and Aching – Melanoma may also come in the form of bruised and off colored skin that lingers much longer than a normal bruise. Some areas of the skin might be tender and randomly ache throughout the day.

Related article: What Causes Red Moles on Skin and How to Get Rid of Them

Reducing Your Risk

The best way to keep this dangerous form of cancer out of your future is to know the sources and take small preventative measures. Some age groups and genetic factors might make someone more susceptible but nobody is completely immune to melanoma skin cancer.

Curb Your Tanning – If you tan often, whether in a booth or outdoors, it’s a dangerous hobby and it will cause dark skin spots. Your skin isn’t prepared to absorb solar radiation for prolonged periods of time.

Use Sunscreen – Regular application of high factor sunscreen will make staying outdoors all day a safe experience. As for sun exposure to get more vitamin D, read my article about vitamin D deficiency.

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Outdoor Timing – As the sun shifts from East to West throughout the day, the intensity of its rays differ based on the angle it hits the earth. The hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. experience the most intense sunlight and are best to be avoided to ensure safer skin.

Grab Some Shades – A pair of UV blocking sunglasses can be more than a slick accessory. They also help block out the UV light and protect your eyes.

Seek Shade – areas of shade are like nature’s sun shield and offer a great protection from sun exposure. If you must be outdoors, cover up with a T-shirt and a hat.

Sadly some people are still unaware that the sun is a lifeline as well as a deathline. There are plenty of organizations like the American Cancer Society that fund cancer treatment and preventative education. Knowing the dangers now and making a few small changes could lead to a brighter and longer future.

Below you can find images of melanoma by the National Cancer Institute, USA. They can give you an impression of moles that have color change, asymmetry, border irregularity and elevation.

melanoma

This Video Reveals What The Sun Really Does To Your Skin

When Thomas Leveritt, a photographer and videographer, took photos of passers-by with his special ultraviolet camera, most people were shocked by what they saw. Their seemingly intact skin was all of a sudden exposed as being full of freckles, age spots, and uneven pigmentation. And of course excessive sun exposure can also cause melanoma.

The video was called How the Sun Sees You. Some people looked on in horror, and they could hardly believe this was really their face. As a contrast, the skin of young children appeared unchanged when filmed with a UV camera.

This showed how we are all born with a perfect skin, but we then let it deteriorate. The video also tried to demonstrate that sunscreen blocks UV rays, and creates a safety barrier. The message was clear: wear sunscreen!

Here is the video: How the Sun Sees You

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