One of the most common forms of skin cancer is melanoma. A lot of people that are living right now will come across some melanoma case; maybe (but hopefully not) you will encounter it yourself, or with one of your relatives, friends or connections. The most important thing about the treatment with melanoma skin cancer, is (like with most cancers) that early detection is critical. The sooner a cancerous mole is found, the better. Therefore we listed 5 common melanoma symptoms you can spot yourself.
A few facts about melanoma skin cancer
So at first we want to talk about some facts regarding melanoma. Awareness for this type of skin cancer is too low, when we look at the numbers. Of course this is not meant to scare you, just to make you aware of the facts that this skin disease is out there – and the more you’ll realize the risks, the better chances are people will pay more attention to it.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
- Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing.
- Melanoma accounts for less than two percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
- 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime.
The last decade
Quite scary numbers right? And on top of that, data shows that the number of melanoma cases worldwide have been rising for the past 10 years. A decade of growth, that’s not what we want to see – but what are the exact numbers?
Data from SEER Cancer Statistics Review shows that from 2000 to 2009 the numbers of melanoma cases were growing 1,9% annually. The last years are presumably the same, and without more attention from people around the world it will be growing in the future.
Age specific disease?
Many people think that skin cancer is a disease that will be an issue later in life. As we have already seen in those numbers above, that is not exactly the case. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that is not depending on age. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers for young men and women. It is believed that the amount of UV from sunlight has a high impact on this age group, which will explain the fact that also young people are at risk when it comes to melanoma.
So after all this, you want to make sure you are okay. Looking for risky skin spots is one of the things you can do, and you can look for the characteristics below.
The first thing you can check yourself are asymmetric moles. Moles are one of the skin spots that are known as a source of melanoma.
With asymmetric, we mean that one half of the mole looks different from the other. The place of where the mole is on your body is not important, so make sure that you check your whole body before making sure that there is nothing to be found.
When one half of the mole looks different from the other in shape, it could be a risky mole. Of course this doesn’t mean that this is a melanoma, but it is recommended to have it checked out by a specialist.
Moles with borders
Moles with borders are also spots that deserve some more attention. When the edges of a mole look different from the rest of it, make sure to have it looked it. It could be that the border looks irregular in shape or thickness, or the border looks ‘blurred’.
Colors in moles
Moles do typically have one color. Of course there are more variations of this color present, and you do not have to worry about that. But when a skin spot is not a solid color all over, that could be sign that somebody needs to look at it further – there doesn’t have to be a melanoma, but it could be a risky spot.
What we see in moles when it comes to colors, is that there are a few possibilities that happen often:
- Shades of grey: not like the book/film, but in a mole. When you see certain shades of grey in a mole, make sure to have it checked out.
- Pink or red: indicates a potential issue, not especially melanoma skin cancer but maybe something else
- Blue or white: those colors also indicate an issue, and should be checked out by a specialist to make sure it’s okay
Diameter as a symptom
If the diameter of the mole (so from one side to the other) is more than 6 millimeters across, it could be a risky one. That’s because moles with a potential problem are often growing in size; so when a spot reaches a certain size like this, it could have be growing for the past time.
These type of characteristics don’t have to mean a thing, it could be harmless, but it also could very well be not – so don’t be scared, but to make sure have it checked out.
That takes us to the last point. We just talked about it a bit; risky moles that could potentially be melanoma often grow in size. But also other things are possible – when a mole is evolving, it could indicate that there is a problem. So not only the size could change, also the form for example. Or the color has been changing over time. Any notable changes should tell you to investigate further.
In the age of technology our do-it-yourself possibilities are endless. That also goes for melanoma checks; you could be the one that performs the first check (although you have to remember that this check doesn’t replace a doctor), even from your mobile phone. When you don’t feel the need to see a doctor yet, try one of the apps available for melanoma detection at SkinVision.com.