If you’re like us, you’re grateful that the sun is re-emerging and the temperatures are finally warming up. However, more sun could potentially mean more damage to your skin if you aren’t taking the necessary measures to protect it.
Chances are if you frequent your dermatologist’s office then you’ve probably heard them stress the importance of wearing sunscreen. And while we’d like to think that “‘Black don’t crack,” our skin is still susceptible to the harmful rays of the sun. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate. Melanoma (also called malignant melanoma) is the deadliest form of skin cancer—it affects 1:5 Americans in their lifetime, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, one person dies from melanoma every hour.
Luckily, if caught in time, melanoma is highly treatable with the use of radiation, surgery, medication and sometimes, chemotherapy.
May is melanoma awareness month, and in honor of Melanoma Monday (May 2), we’ve drawn up a list of things you should be on the look out for to make sure your skin is tip-top shape and cancer free.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It occurs when the cells that produce melanin in your skin become cancerous.
Who can get melanoma?
Anyone. Melanoma does not discriminate. According to the Melanoma International Foundation, “women aged 35 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.” And, according to The American Academy of Dermatology, “Men over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.” And, because Blacks are less likely to get checked for melanoma, the estimated 5-year survival rate for Blacks with melanoma is only 70%, compared to the 93% survival rate for Whites.
How do you spot melanoma?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you follow the “ABCDEs of Melanoma“:
A: Asymmetry— if you spot a mole that is irregularly shaped, then you may want to consult a doctor about it.
B: Border—the perimeter of your mole is uneven and undefined.
C: Color— Consult a doctor if you notice that your mole is slightly discolored
D: Diameter— If the mole is the size of pencil eraser consider getting it checked out.
E: Evolving— If you notice that your mole is growing or changing shape, consult a doctor.
What can you do to prevent getting melanoma?
- -Use and SPF of at least 30 your face and body on a daily basis (even If you aren’t going out in the sun). Remember to re-apply every 30 minutes.
- -Go to a dermatologist annually to get a skin cancer screening.
- -Avoid spending time in the sun between the hours of 10-4 PM
- -If you like to tan, consider opting for a spray tan instead of a tanning booth or baking in the sun to avoid UV exposure.
- -Head over to spotskincancer.org to learn more about melanoma and preventative measures.