Tips to Prevent Melanoma
Most deaths from skin cancer are due to melanoma, which is when a skin cell that normally confers pigment to the hair and skin (melanocyte) becomes derailed and starts to grow autonomously. To become a melanoma, cells must go through a number of steps, usually beginning with the formation of a mole. Moles are limited growths that remain static, unless triggered to become malignant by additional DNA damage.
Actions and Options to Prevent Melanoma
- Keep a close eye on your moles
- By closely monitoring any moles, you can identify if growth is no longer restricted and a cancer may be forming. If you have a mole or unusual freckle that is new or has changed in shape, size or color (e.g. dark brown to black, blue-black or red), you should get it checked.
- The earlier a cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery, disfigurement or death. Early detection is good protection
- It’s hard to keep an eye on everything. You should make sure you get checked all over every year
- Protect yourself against solar damage – ultraviolet and infrared light are the most important causes of DNA damage in the skin. Do what you can to limit your exposure to harmful rays:
- Wear hats and protective clothing (even on cloudy days)
- Use broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen (apply every 2 hours when exposed). Make sure it is protective against UVA rays as well
- Avoid unprotected sun exposure (especially 11am to 2pm)
- Don’t use tanning salons
Last Reviewed 11/Mar/2014