Knowledge is power, and when it comes to cancer, knowing the facts about diseases such as melanoma means you are more likely to spot the signs and symptoms early. While we all know we should be keeping an eye out for suspect moles and slapping on the SPF in the sun, there may be a few facts about melanoma you're not aware of. We caught up with Macmillan Cancer Information Nurse Carol Goodman to find out more about this form of skin cancer…
1. You can get melanoma in your eyeMelanoma typically forms from a mole on the surface of the skin, but it can also develop in the eye, as well as the lining of the digestive tract or the genitals.
2. Having more than 100 moles puts you at riskAs does having very fair skin, or family members who have been diagnosed with melanoma. If you notice a new mole or an old one which has changed in appearance, get it checked out with your GP. 3. It's not just the sun that causes itThe major cause of melanoma is UV light, which as we all know, is emitted from the sun. What you might not be aware of is that artificial light sources, such as sun beds, also emit UV.
4. There's an easy code to help you check your molesThe ABCDE list helps you know what to look for:
A – Asymmetrical moles – irregular in shape
B – Border of a mole – blurred or has jagged edges
C – Colour of a mole – if a mole has more than one colour
D – Diameter – irregular moles are usually larger than 7mmE – Evolving – melanoma moles often change
5. It's the second most common cancer in under 50sYou might not have heard as much about melanoma as say, breast or cervical cancer, but it is actually far from rare. Overall melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.
6. Early treatment is important.If your GP thinks you may have a melanoma, they may refer you for an examination and possible biopsy. Early stage melanomas are typically treated with surgery known as a 'wide local excision', which removes the cells in the area surrounding the mole to reduce the chance of it coming back. If a melanoma reaches the latter stage, the cells can grow deeper into the layers of skin, reaching the blood or lymphatic vessels, which then carry the cancer cells around the body.
7. Getting snap-happy with your moles could helpIf you are worried about a change in your mole, always make an appointment with your GP. If you can take a photograph to show the change that can be very helpful too.