May 2 is known as Melanoma Monday -- the day dermatologists want to bring awareness to this deadly disease.
In fact, more than one million people are living with melanoma. It’s the deadliest form of skin cancer, claiming the life of one person each and every hour. The longer it takes to diagnose it, the harder it is to stop it. That’s why it’s imperative to know the facts about melanoma.
“It is one of the most aggressive cancers on the planet,” dermatologist Sandy Leachman said.
Nearly 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. What you don’t know about it puts you at risk for it.
First question, does melanoma mainly affect older people? Not necessarily.
“My daughter, when she was 25, was diagnosed with melanoma,” Marcia Walsh said.
While the average age of diagnosis is 65, melanoma is also the second most commonly diagnosed cancer for people aged 15 to 29.
But does the color of your skin also matter? Studies show fair-skinned people have a higher risk of developing it, but anyone can get it. Melanoma does not discriminate.
But does it only occur on your skin?
“The doctor that saw me that day noticed a bubble in my left eye,” explained Tiki Dickerson, a patient who was diagnosed with melanoma.
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body: Eyes, scalp, nails, feet, and areas with mucous membranes, like your sinuses.
Your best line of defense is to lather up with sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more every single day. Even on the cloudy days, 80% of the UV rays reach our skin.
Experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20 increases one’s melanoma risk by 80%.
Young women, especially redheads and blondes are more at risk. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you examine your skin, head to toe, every month, especially looking for any new mole or any sign of change in an existing mole. If you spot any change that you consider suspicious, see a skin specialist immediately.