Preventing and Detecting Melanoma

Melanoma is an increasingly common skin cancer, most typically developed through ultraviolet (UV) exposure. The best prevention includes reducing exposures to UV radiation and early detection through self-screening or visiting a dermatologist is highly encouraged.

Common But Preventable

Melanoma develops through mutations affecting the pigment cell of the skin, known as the melanocyte. Although these mutations driving melanoma development are generally considered initiated through ultraviolet light exposure, genetics plays an important role as well.

Specifically, for melanomas of the eye, feet/hands (acral locations), and mucosal surfaces, genetics and non-ultraviolet light exposures play the most important role in initiating the biological progression to cancer.

The main risk factors for melanoma are the following:

  • ultraviolet light exposure
  • age (risk increases with time)
  • light skin complexion
  • high mole (nevus) count (greater than 25 or 50 moles on the entire body)
  • atypical moles (large, multi-colored and unevenly shaped)
  • medium to large birthmarks (congenital nevi)
  • personal or family history of melanoma

For more information about melanoma read what our board-certified dermatologist Dr. Krathen said in an article featured on FireFly: Skin Deep: Preventing and Detecting Melanoma

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