Melanoma is the medical name given to a specific type of skin cancer that begins in the melanocytes of the skin. Melanocytes are often your best friend in the spring and summer, as they are the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin a nice, even, and beautiful tan or brown color. Too much sun exposure can cause these cells to develop into cancerous tumors, however.
Melanoma is almost always curable, though it must be diagnosed and treated as early as possible (i). Dr. Busso has created the guide below to help men and women stay proactive in checking for melanoma skin cancer.
Perform this melanoma self-check at home, and contact Dr. Busso immediately if you notice any spots or abnormalities that meet the criteria below. At our practice, patients can receive professional skin cancer screening in Miami.
How to Check Yourself for Melanoma
You can detect skin cancer early by examining your skin. Using a wall mounted mirror and a hand held mirror is especially helpful when checking the back and other hard to see areas. When examining your skin look for the ABCDE’S of melanoma, make an appointment if any of your moles have theses signs.
ABCDE’s of Melanoma
A: asymmetry, one half of the spot is unlike the other half.
B: border, the spot has an irregular or poorly defined border.
C: color, the spot has different colors from one area to the next. Three colors or more meets this criteria
D: diameter, melanomas are usually greater than 6mm or about the size of a pencil eraser but melanomas can be smaller.
E: evolving, a spot that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
What Causes Melanoma?
According to health experts, melanoma is likely caused by a combination of factors, including genetics and environmental stressors like intense and prolonged sun exposure (ii). Below is a list of factors that place you at high risk for developing melanoma skin cancer:
- Excessive sun exposure is believed to be the leading cause of melanoma for both fair skin and dark skin individuals.
- Use of indoor tanning beds also elevates your risk of developing melanoma, similarly to excessive sun exposure.
- Fair skin has less melanin than dark skin, which elevates the risk of damage from UV radiation.
- Burn easily? If so, it is a sign that your skin has a low threshold for damage under the sun, which makes it easier to develop melanoma.
- Living close to the equator exposes you to more direct and potentially damaging sun exposure. If you live in South Florida, and especially in Miami, you are very close to the equator and are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the rest of the United States.
- Family history also plays a role in the development of cancer like melanoma.
Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment in Miami
Become familiar with your moles. Alert us about any changes to moles. Early detection and treatment can cure most melanomas. For more information on early melanoma detection and treatment, contact Dr. Mariano Busso at 305-857-0144.
(i) What is melanoma skin cancer. Cancer.org.
(ii) Melanoma. Mayclinic.org.