(KUTV) May is Melanoma awareness month and as summer is approaching and we are spending more and more time outdoors in the sun.
Dr. Jared Heaton visited Fresh Living to help us become more aware of our skin. He is a board certified dermatologist and owner of Legacy Dermatology in Bountiful.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer most people have heard of because of potentially how dangerous it can be and how quickly it can spread. It develops from the cells in our skin that produce pigment - giving moles their dark color and producing a tan when exposed to sunlight
Believe it or not, you are at a higher risk of developing Melanoma in Utah than you are in Arizona, California, Hawaii or Florida.
Utah is leading all other states with the highest rate of new melanoma skin cancer cases in the country. This is because Utah has a high elevation, warm climates and it is a place where sunlight is reflected by sand, water, snow, and ice.
Utah sees almost 32 cases per 100,000 people, and Utah's melanoma mortality rate is almost 30% higher than the national average.
There are some facts and misconceptions that Dr. Heaton wanted to clear up about Melanoma to raise awareness.
- Melanoma is a "young person's" cancer. False. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old.
- Is Melanoma more common in men or women? Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer. The incidence is much more common in younger women up to about the age of 49, then transitions to more common in Men over 50.
- Melanoma is curable if caught in the early stages. True. This is why there is such a push for people to have any suspicious lesions examined by a dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Melanoma can only occur in places with sun exposure. False. It is most common in the legs for women, back for men (areas that receive more UV light - tanning).However, it can develop anywhere, even where the "sun don't shine".
- Melanoma is caused mostly by UV exposure. True - upwards of 85% can be linked to sun / UV exposure.
If you have a mole that seems suspicious, look for the "ABCDEs" of Melanoma:
- A: Asymetrical - one half is unlike the other
- B: Border: Irregular or jagged, as opposed to smooth and well defined
- C: Color: Different color variations within the mole, Dark brown, light brown - sometimes blue or even white / red
- D: Diameter - Larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil tip eraser)
- E: Evolving - The most important! A new mole that develops grows quickly, or a changing mole - visible change over weeks to months. If you notice your mole looks different than the last time you saw it, it should be checked
If you have something that looks suspicious, schedule an appointment and have it looked at by a board certified dermatologist as soon as possi