Alternate Names : Skin Cancer (Melanoma)
What can be done to prevent the disease?
Skin cancer rates are rising. Preventive measures explained below
may help to decrease skin cancer risk.
Avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M., when
ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) is most intense.
Do not try to tan if your skin burns easily.
Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. The SPF, or sun protection
factor, indicates how much longer you can stay in the sun before getting
Use sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and
ultraviolet-B (UVB) light.
Reapply water-resistant sunscreens after swimming, if sweating heavily, as
well as every 2 hours during periods of sun exposure.
Use a lip balm with a sunscreen.
Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and a hat. Keep in mind that
up to 50% of ultraviolet rays can penetrate loosely woven clothing.
Avoid the use of sun lamps or commercial tanning booths.
Do a regular skin self-exam in a well-lighted room using a full-length
mirror and a hand-held mirror. Check all areas of the skin, including the
scalp, back, between the buttocks, and the genital area.
Teach children ways to protect their skin for life.
Early detection and treatment of melanoma is also critical. Melanoma
can be cured if treated while the tumor is thin and superficial. Advanced,
thick, deep tumors are more difficult to control and can spread to other parts
of the body. People at higher risk of melanoma may be advised to have checkups
more frequently. The healthcare provider may take photos of a person's skin to
help in detecting changes that occur over time.
What are the long-term effects of the disease?
Melanoma left untreated is fatal. The prognosis for people who
receive treatment for melanoma is affected by many factors, including the
person's general condition, response to treatment, and extent of disease. The
person's healthcare provider is in the best position to explain what can be
expected in each situation.
Concerns over psychological, emotional, and financial problems are
common for those with cancer. Help is available from healthcare providers,
social workers, and others for those in need.
What are the risks to others?
Melanoma is not contagious and poses no risk to others.