Five Ways to Prevent Melanoma

May 4 • 2015

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can develop anywhere on the skin, but most often starts on the chest or back in men or the legs in women. It is also commonly found on the neck or face. While it is not the most common form of skin cancer, it is one of the most deadly. Detecting melanoma early is important because it is almost always curable in early stages.

While not all melanomas can be prevented, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of developing it, such as:

  1. When you are outside, stay in the shade as much as possible. Be sure to apply sunscreen, cover yourself with a shirt and hat, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the surrounding skin.
  2. Stay away from tanning beds and sunlamps. The UV rays your body is exposed to in tanning beds are not harmless. In fact, they can cause long-term skin damage and skin cancer. The use of a tanning bed has been linked to the development of melanoma, especially for people who have used tanning beds before the age of 30.
  3. Keep kids protected from the sun. Children tend to burn more easily and often spend more time in the sun than adults, so parents and caregivers need to be aware of the best way to protect them from sun exposure. Teach your kids about the dangers of too much sun and take the same measures you would with your own skin.
  4. Perform a self-exam on a regular basis to make sure you are aware of any new or abnormal spots, moles, or growths. If you notice anything worrisome, speak with your doctor about it right away.
  5. Some gene mutations that increase your risk of melanoma are hereditary. If several members of your family have had melanoma, a family member has had more than one melanoma, a family member has had melanoma and pancreatic cancer, or if you have had more than one melanoma, you may be at an increased risk. There is testing available to screen for mutation genes, so let your doctor know about your health history and learn about the right steps for your health needs.

May 4, 2015 is Melanoma Monday. Find out more about how to raise awareness for different types of skin cancer here.