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Who’s at Risk for Melanoma?

Who’s at Risk for Melanoma?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. More than two people in the United States die hourly from skin cancer, and 1 in 5 has it by the time they reach 70. Having five or more sunburns doubles your chances of getting it. 

Melanoma is the most invasive form of skin cancer, and about 200,000 new cases this year are expected. If melanoma isn’t caught early, there’s a high risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body. 

At their three New York City locations, Dr. Javier Zelaya and the excellent medical team at Skinworks Dermatology diagnose and treat melanoma and other skin conditions. Here’s what they’d like you to know about melanoma.

What causes melanoma?

Your skin’s upper layer has millions of cells, including melanocytes, which produce the melanin that gives your skin its color. 

When your skin is damaged by the sun, melanin production increases to protect your skin. 

But the overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause the melanocytes to mutate. This results in uncontrolled cellular growth and melanoma.

Types of melanoma

There are four types of melanoma:

Superficial spreading melanoma

The most common type, this melanoma can come from an existing mole or a new lesion. It appears flat and discolored.

Lentigo maligna

Common in older people, this type of melanoma can appear on the face, ears, arms, and upper torso in a blotchy pattern with uneven borders.

Acral lentiginous melanoma

This type of melanoma is common in people of African ancestry. It frequently shows up under the nails, on the soles of the feet, or on the palms of the hands.

Nodular melanoma

The most aggressive type of melanoma, this one presents as blue-black bumps on the torso, legs, arms, or scalp.

Melanoma signs and risk factors

The ABCDE method is a common way to look for signs of melanoma, with each letter representing an aspect of a suspicious mole:

Other ways to look for symptoms include the ugly duckling method. This method identifies moles that look different from other moles or spots you already have. See a doctor if you have any of these skin symptoms.

Common risk factors for melanoma include:

People who have a rare condition known as xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) are also at high risk for melanoma. 

There are steps you can take to prevent melanoma. But if you’re concerned that a lesion on your body might be cancerous, know that treatment options are available. But, it’s worth repeating, early detection is key to keeping any cancer from spreading.

For diagnosis and treatment of melanoma and other skin concerns, call the Skinworks Dermatology office in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope. Or book your appointment online today.

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