If you haven’t been scared by the idea of Melanoma yet, let me try to help. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. It has fewer successful treatments compared to other types of skin cancer, so if not caught early it’s much more deadly. About one in 50 Americans have a lifetime risk of being diagnosed.
Risk factors for developing Melanoma include fair skin that easily burns, over 50 moles and a history of dysplastic moles (as diagnosed by a dermatologist). Another important risk factor is a family history of Melanoma. If you have one or more immediate family members with a history of this disease, your risk goes up dramatically.
Too often I have patients come in and say their Dad/Brother/Mother had a skin cancer, but they don’t know what kind. Please find out! While it’s important to know about a history of other skin cancers, it’s absolutely crucial for your health to know if it was a Melanoma. This information wins you an immediate trip to the Dermatologist for a skin exam (Congratulations!) and a new awareness about your skin and protecting it. You have to be aware of the moles and marks on your body, and get comfortable with the idea of having a skin exam at least once a year.
There are so many other things I could harp on about Melanoma and skin cancer prevention, but I’ll spare you (for now). Just make sure you know all the important details of your family medical history. It can be life saving. Sermon over!