Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives color to our skin, hair, and eyes. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and can potentially be life-threatening if not detected and treated early. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of melanoma, and hopefully answer some questions you may have about it.
What is it?
Melanoma is a cancer that develops from melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin pigment, which gives skin its color.
Where is it usually found?
Melanomas often resemble moles and sometimes may arise from them. They can appear on any area of the body, even in areas that are not typically exposed to the sun.
What causes it?
Melanoma is often triggered by the kind of intense, intermittent sun exposure that leads to sunburn. Tanning bed use also increases risk for melanoma.
How many people get it?
In 2023, an estimated 186,680 new cases of melanoma are expected to occur in the U.S. Of those, 89,070 cases will be in situ (noninvasive), confined to the epidermis (the top layer of skin), and 97,610 cases will be invasive, penetrating the epidermis into the skin’s second layer (the dermis).
How serious is it?
Melanoma is the most dangerous of the three most common forms of skin cancer. Melanomas can be curable when caught and treated early. In 2023, melanoma is projected to cause about 7,990 deaths.
How to tell if you might have a melanoma:
One of the key aspects of combating melanoma is being able to recognize its early warning signs. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using the “ABCDE” rule as a guideline for self-examination:
- Asymmetry: Look for moles or growths that are irregular in shape, with one half different from the other half.
- Border: Check for irregular, blurred, or jagged edges on existing moles or new growths.
- Color: Monitor moles or growths that have uneven or multiple colors, such as shades of brown, black, or even red, white, or blue.
- Diameter: Pay attention to the size of moles or growths, particularly those larger than the eraser of a pencil (about 6 mm or more).
- Evolving: Keep an eye on any mole or growth that changes in size, shape, or color, or starts to bleed or itch.
The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have questions or concerns, please call our office or make an appointment with a medical professional. Savannah River Dermatology is located at 575 Furys Ferry Rd in Augusta, Ga. Our office can be reached at 706-691-7079.