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How To Avoid Melanoma by Melisa Crnolic

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The most dangerous skin cancer is Melanoma. Malignant tumors are the result of damage to the melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells in the basal layer of the epidermis which generate melanin. The color of a person’s skin depends on how much melanin pigment they absorb.

The risk of melanoma is becoming staggering in people under 40 years old.  Over the years, the number of melanoma cases has increased in both males and females. Cases of melanoma in males from 15 to 39 years old have increased from 4 cases to 7 cases for every 100,000. It should be no surprise that the cases of women in the same age group have increased more rapidly. The number of cases reported has jumped from 5.5 to 13.9 per 100,000 from 1973 to 2004.  Younger females are using the tanning beds more frequently because, in a world filled with media domination, there is a connection between tanned and beautiful.

The most noticeable sign of melanoma is a mole. Some moles may be benign (non-cancerous), however, still see a doctor. A person can also examine their moles using the ABCDEs of melanoma. Draw a line horizontally on the mole, if it is asymmetrical, consider it a red flag. The letter B represents the border of the mole. A premature melanoma mole will have irregular borders. The next thing would be to check the color and make sure it is not multiple colors, which would be another red flag.  Diameter is the fourth aspect that a person should notice. If the diameter of the mole is larger than ¼ of an inch, that is a concern. Lastly, notice the evolution. Does it keep changing colors? Is it getting bigger? An individual who notices one of these signs should consult with a dermatologist immediately because melanoma detected as early as possible is a step closer to beating it.

To avoid melanoma, follow the basic skin cancer prevention guidelines. The sun’s rays are at their highest level between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. An individual who is outside at those times should seek shade. When going outside, always make sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. An individual who is expected to be doing outside activity for a long period should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after swimming. At all times an individual should avoid tanning beds. The sun’s rays are equally as damaging, therefore, do not lather up with tanning oil and lay out for hours. Lastly, try to see a physician once or twice a year for a skin exam.

Many times people overlook moles because they may just be a birthmark, however, some moles are cancerous. That is why it is important to visit a physician for skin exams. Also, follow the skin cancer prevention tips. The most imperative tips are to wear sunscreen and not try to tan. Melanoma is a very serious type of skin cancer, though treatable if detected early, an individual should never risk their life for a tan.

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