tanning beds is a major risk factor for the disease, along with family history. One in 50 people will get melanoma in their lifetime, but it’s curable when caught early.
Through treatment, doctors can cure about 80 percent of melanoma skin cancers. Like squamous and basal cell skin cancers, your doctor may remove the spot and then usually check nearby lymph nodes. Some melanoma cancers have already spread to other parts of the body when they’re first discovered. Fortunately, over the past few years there have been tremendous developments of new treatments that specifically target the melanoma cells in the body, with very positive results.
What Should You Watch For? Skin cancers are related to sun exposure. But you should remember that it may not be the sunburn from your last vacation, but rather the repeated exposure to sun over the years that can affect your risk of getting skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there would be fewer deaths from melanoma if people took time to do regular skin exams. That means you should check for moles on every part of your body — from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet and even under your fingernails.
Notice the shape, size and color of your moles. Especially be on the lookout for new moles or those that are growing or changing over time or that look different from the rest.
If you see any moles that concern you, or if you have a mole that itches, hurts or bleeds, talk with your doctor.
Glen R. Gibson, MD, is a surgical oncologist with Anne Arundel Medical Center Surgical Oncology located in Kent Island. Dr. Gibson specializes in minimally invasive procedures, with a focus on oncologic surgery. If you have a cancer diagnosis that requires surgery, call 443-481-3717 to schedule an appointment.