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Who Is at Risk For Melanoma?

Melanoma Monday: Are You at Risk?

In honor of Melanoma Monday, we're sharing information about melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, and unfortunately, it's the most common cancer among 25- to 29-year-olds. However, melanoma, which can be described as the uncontrolled spread of pigment-producing cells, can be easily cured when detected early enough (find out where to get a free mole screening here). Discover more about this type of cancer and who has a greater risk for developing it when you keep reading.

From the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Nobody is completely safe: Melanoma can happen to anybody, but some groups of people (more below) are at a higher risk. Also, not every melanoma is caused by the sun; immune system deficiencies and genetic factors also come into play.
  • Indoor tanning: Studies have found that people who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning have a 75 percent increase in potentially developing melanoma. Note: tanning beds can sometimes actually be stronger than sunlight.
  • Physical characteristics: When compared to other races, Caucasians are at higher risk, especially those with fairer skin tones. People with red or blond hair, and those with blue or green eyes, are also more apt to be affected by melanoma.
  • Multiple moles: Those with 50 moles or more have an increased risk.
  • In the family: If a blood relative has been affected by melanoma, you are more likely to develop the disease too.
  • If you've had skin cancer before: If you've had melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma before, you are more likely to develop melanoma.
  • Burn, baby, burn: Ever had a terrible burn? If you've had a horribly blistering sunburn before, your risk increases.

From the National Cancer Institute:

  • Location, location, location: The closer you live to the equator (where the sun is more intense), the higher the risk for developing melanoma.
  • Elevation: People living in areas with higher elevations are also more vulnerable to the sun's strong rays, and therefore, melanoma.

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month, so stay tuned for more tips on prevention.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Jaime-Richards Jaime-Richards 4 years
 @TracieMB You are so on top of it! Good for you! 
TracieMB TracieMB 4 years
I slather on sunscreen and moisturizers with sunscreen since I have light brown hair, very porcelain skin, and tendencies to freckle on my arms and shoulders.  I carry sunscreen in my purse and reapply several times during the day.  I like Burt's Bees sunscreen; it lacks the "sunscreen" smell of other sunscreens, it does not dry out the skin at all, and it hasn't contributed for me to breakouts.  I like how my skin looks with using it.  I also often wear a baseball cap or a beach hat when out in the sun, plus sunglasses that help me with driving and keep me from squinting.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 4 years
 @rubylipstick Exactly — this "base tan" idea is not a good one. And definitely  not safe!
Jaime-Richards Jaime-Richards 5 years
Thank you for sharing, rubylipstick!
rubylipstick rubylipstick 5 years
Thank you for writing about such an important topic! I'm a nurse and I just wish that the message was put out there more that tanning beds (and suntanning in general) are not safe. For those of you who feel you have to go tanning prior to going on vacation - a so-called "base tan" will not protect you. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association (2011), a tan is at most equivalent to a SPF of 2 to 4 (http://www.dermatology.ca/indoortanning/index.html). As well, I'd like to share a video by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, which can be viewed on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4jgUcxMezM&feature=player_embedded
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