As we spend more time outdoors in the summer sun, there’s a greater emphasis on dangers of too much sun exposure. One of the greatest overexposure risks is melanoma: the most threatening form of skin cancer… but do you know the signs of melanoma? It resembles a dark spot or a mole, so the natural camouflage can make it tricky to identify!
There are five main physical symptoms of melanoma, but the main symptom to keep in mind is evolution. If the mole seems to change, then you need to get a medical opinion, ASAP! Mayo Clinic has image examples of the melanoma signs to get a better idea of the symptoms.
- Asymmetry: if you draw a line down the middle, are both sides symmetrical?
- Border irregularity: are the borders irregular or jagged?
- Changes in color: is there a change in color throughout the spot in question?
- Size: is it larger than 6mm in diameter, or about the size of a pencil eraser?
- Changes over time: is there a change in size, color, or shape since the last time you looked?
Prevention is crucial
Self reports that studies in The Lancet and The Journal of Clinical Oncology found that using a daily sunscreen cuts down on melanoma risk by 50 percent… with that significant of a decrease, why wouldn’t you use sunscreen!? Apply sun protection daily, and if you wear foundation or blush, just apply sunscreen beforehand.
In addition to sunscreen, melanoma prevention is just the same as any other cancer… we conduct regular screenings for breast cancer and colon cancer, so it makes sense to take the same approach with our skin. Regularly check your skin for any physical symptoms of melanoma, and take note of any concerning moles. This way, you’ll know to watch for any changes in size, color or shape.