What is melanoma and how do I prevent it?

What is melanoma and how do I prevent it?

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that is becoming more and more common in today’s society, but very few people know about it. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to potentially prevent the risk of getting melanoma.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is probably one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer a person can have. Melanoma occurs when the damage has been done to the DNA of the skin cells which then triggers mutations, this then causes the cells to multiply rapidly and form tumours.

What does melanoma look like?

Melanomas often look like moles; some melanomas can even develop from moles. Majority of melanomas are black or brown, however, they can also be skin-coloured, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

What is melanoma caused by?

The exact causes of what leads to DNA damages in skin cells and how it leads to melanoma is unclear. Environmental and genetic factors may also play a role in increasing the chances of melanoma. However, the risk of melanoma is usually increased by intense UV exposure; such is being in the sun for too long which often leads to sunburn. Sunburn can cause damage to the DNA of your skin cells and can trigger a mutation. Intense UV exposure may also come from overexposure to tanning beds and lamps.

Risk factors when it comes to contracting melanoma

Having fairer skin usually means that you have less protection from UV rays and can increase your chances of developing melanoma. The more sunburn incidents you have had will build up more damage in your skin cells, each time you get sunburnt there is an increased chance of the cells getting damaged and mutating. Make sure to count how many moles you have on your body due to the fact that having more than 50 ordinary moles can increase your risk of developing melanoma.

The ABC’s of Melanoma warning signs?

  • Asymmetrical shape. If you cannot draw a line down the middle of the mole and each side look symmetrical then it may be a warning side of melanoma.
  • Irregular border. Moles that have irregular or notched borders may be a risk for melanoma.
  • Changes in colour. Moles that have an uneven distribution of colour or many colours.
  • Diameter growth. Identifying rapid growth in a mole, especially one that is larger than 6 millimetres may be at risk of developing into melanoma.
  • Evolving moles. Changes in moles over time such as changes in size or colour. If a mole develops into itchiness or it begins to bleed then it may be time to visit a doctor.

How can you reduce the risk of melanoma?

  • Avoid the sun at mid-day during the sun’s strongest times. This will help you to avoid sunburns and suntans that can cause skin damage
  • Wear sunscreen regularly. Sunscreen does not filter out harmful UV radiation, however, they do aid in overall protection from the sun. Try to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Cover up a little more. Ensure that you wear clothing that protects as much of your skin as comfortably possible. Protect your head by wearing a cap or broad-brimmed hat and your eyes with sunglasses. This will decrease the risk of skin cell damage from overexposure.
  • Try to avoid tanning lamps and beds. There are so many skin-friendly options on the market to achieve the beautiful golden tan you desire. Tanning beds and lamps emit UV rays that can be harmful to your skin cells.
  • Get to know your skin. Being familiar with the moles and growths on your body will help you keep track of any changes that may occur in them. Consistently examining your body, with the help of a mirror, to keep track of any changes in your skin or new moles that may develop. Make sure you check your face, neck, ears and scalp. Examine your chest and the tops of the hands and feet as these are the areas that are exposed to the most sun.

What treatments are available for melanoma?

At Cranford House Plastic Surgery multiple treatments are available, such as cryotherapy, skin graft construction and skin flaps reconstruction. Contact Cranford House Plastic Surgery on 0870700596 to book an appointment.

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