What Are the Important Risk Factors About Melanoma?
In case you are not aware, melanoma is a very malignant tumor that is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells called melanocytes, the pigment producing cells. While it is usually referred as a type of skin cancer, it can and does occur in other body organs.
Although it is much less common than either basal cell and squamous cell cancers, it is still remains the cause of the greatest number of skin cancer-related deaths.
Over exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun can have very damaging effects on the DNA in the skin cells. Once the DNA becomes damaged, there is a greater incidence of cancerous changes that will develop in the affected cells.
Moles start out as benign tumors, composed of melanocytes and these can become cancerous.
The critical points to look for are changes in the size or shape:
1. Has the mole developed an irregular edge?
2. Is the mole getting darker or showing multiple shades?
3. Is there any presence of inflammation, itching or bleeding?
4. Is there any growth of a crusty surface?
If you notice any of the signs or multiple signs, you need to see a physician immediately. Any individual who has numerous abnormal moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
Individuals who have fair skin, especially with red hair, are also at a higher risk. If your skin is highly freckled, you are also at a greater risk for the disease. People who have darker skin pigmentation, have greater natural protection.
If there is a family history of malignant melanoma, especially a mother, father, brother or sister, this factor significantly increases the risk. Statistically, individuals who have a primary relative diagnosed with melanoma, will develop it themselves.
The best preventative measures are careful monitoring for any changes in your skin, minimizing your exposure to the sun during the hours of 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM, wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun and when you go swimming, you must use some type of sunscreen.
Melanoma must be diagnosed at the earliest stages, so they treatment can be initiated. If it is NOT diagnosed early and treated, it can easily spread to other parts of the body and be fatal.