The month of May is Melanoma Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Monday, May 1st in Melanoma Monday!
The aim of Melanoma Monday is to raise awareness about melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer in which cells within moles on the skin becoming malignant (cancerous) and can spread rapidly to other areas of the body if left untreated.
Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities.
Melanomas can also develop in other areas of the body such as the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth. Whilst melanoma is thought to be a less common form of skin cancer, in recent years the incidence of melanoma seems to be increasing.
Raising Awareness About Melanoma Risk Factors
Melanoma is more common in people with white, fair skin and those who have experienced high levels of UV exposure. Sun burns, often experienced during childhood and the use of sun beds are two risk factors associated with melanoma.
Melanoma Monday aims to encourage people to examine their skin regularly and seek medical assistance if there are recognized signs of a malignant mole. Early detection and treatment is associated with a much higher survival rate.
By educating the public about melanoma and encouraging early detection, Melanoma Monday have helped saved lives.
'See Spot Check Spot.' Melanoma Warning Signs: ABCDE
To help spread awareness and make the melanoma warning signs memorable, the signs of a possible malignant mole can be abbreviated to the mnemonic: ABCDE
A. Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical? If you imagine a line drawn across the center of the mole, if the two halves do not match then they are considered asymmetrical. If you have an asymmetrical mole seek medical assistance.
B. Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven? If so, please seek medical advice.
C. Color: is the mole one uniform color? If there are several colors or shades of a color within a mole this could be a warning sign. Seek medical assistance.
D. Diameter: how big is the mole? Melanomas often have a diameter of 6mm (1/4inch) or more (diameter is the length across the mole).
E. Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color? Have you noticed any other changes such as bleeding, itching or puss coming from the mole? These may be signs of a malignant mole so seek medical assistance.
Early Detection Is Crucial For Treatment Success
As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. However, unlike most cancers, melanoma does normally not respond well to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or medication.
When melanoma is at a later stage and has metastasized (spreading to other parts of the body), treatment options are limited and palliative care is the main course of action.
Drug treatments for melanoma, when successful, do not provide a cure. They may extend life for a time measured in months not years. There will always be exceptions and some people with metastatic (stage 4) melanoma will live for many years after diagnosis.
However, the prognosis for advanced melanoma is normally not good hence early detection is critical for success.
For more information, please visit the official Melanoma Monday website.
The site features free resources which includes a body mole map for download and comprehensive instructions on how to perform a skin self examination