Melanoma is also curable when detected early, but it can be fatal if it is not detected at an early stage. Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment-producing cells in the skin, known as melanocytes. Melanoma occurs when melanocytes transform into cancer cells that multiply and invade other tissues.
- The overall incidence of melanoma is rising at an alarming rate.
- In 2005, one in 62 Americans have a lifetime risk of developing invasive melanoma, a 2000% increase from 1930. When non-invasive melanoma is included, one in 34 Americans have a lifetime risk of developing melanoma.
- The American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone to examine their skin regularly. If there are any changes in the size, color, shape or texture of a mole, the development of a new mole, or any other unusual changes in the skin, see your dermatologist immediately.
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet sunlight is the most preventable cause of melanoma. Melanoma has also been linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 18 years of life.
- Not all melanomas are sun related – other possible causes include genetic factors and immune system deficiencies. Melanoma can strike anyone. Caucasians are ten times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than other races.