Melanoma is type of skin cancer that begins in the melanocytes. It only accounts for 1% of skin cancer cases, but it causes most of skin cancer-related deaths. Unlike basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, melanoma is not as common but it is more dangerous because it is more likely to spread to the other parts of the body.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. In-line with the event, we would shed light on one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer through debunking seven of the most common myths believed about the disease.
- Melanoma is rare.
Melanoma may not be as rampant as the other types of skin cancer, but it occurs quite often. In fact, 76,380 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year in the US. Furthermore, it is found that the rates of melanoma is on a steady incline for the past 30 years.
- Only large skin spots can turn into melanoma.
A common misconception is that melanoma will only appear as large and irregular spots on the skin. However, it’s important to note that it can also occur as skin irregularities that are not as prominent. If you see something unusual about your skin, may it be a small or big spot, it’s best to consult a doctor to detect or rule out melanoma early on.
- Tanning beds don’t cause skin cancer.
The harsh rays of the sun is just one of the many culprits of skin cancer. Tanning beds can also emit harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. Meanwhile other factors such as having fair skin, skin cancer history in the family, and multiple moles can also affect a person’s risk to the disease.
- The higher SPF, the better.
SPF doesn’t bear much weight as opposed to the amount of sunscreen you put on your skin. In fact, SPF 30 is enough. What matters is that you apply sunscreen at 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply accordingly especially if the product will likely be washed off by sweat and water. In addition, it helps to avoid going outside during the sun’s peak, which is between 10 in the morning and three in the afternoon.
- Melanoma only occurs on skin that are more exposed to the sun.
Melanoma can also occur in other parts of the body, even those that are typically hidden from the sun. The disease can affect the eyes, vagina, rectum, mouth, soles, and palms.
- When melanoma is removed from the body, it’s gone for good.
Melanoma is a dangerous type of cancer because it only needs to be 1mm deep in order to penetrate your bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. Once melanoma enters the system, it can reappear in the future, which can be a matter of months or years.
- Darker skinned individuals will not be affected by melanoma.
While melanoma is less common among people with dark skin, that doesn’t mean that they are immune to melanoma. They can also incur this type of skin cancer. Remember, skin color is just one of the risk factors of melanoma. A person’s risk will also be based on their UV exposure, moles, and family health history.
On average, melanoma is usually diagnosed at age 63. However, can also occur to individuals who are 30 years old and below. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially among women.
The first fight against melanoma, and cancer in general, is awareness. Debunking these seven common misconceptions about melanoma is a good start.
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