What is a melanoma?

A melanoma is a type of skin cancer.  This is the cancer of the melanocytes.  It’s the worst type of skin cancer to get and the type of skin cancer that can spread or metastasize to other areas of the body if not caught early.  It arises from intense over-exposure of the sun without the use of a sunscreen. How do you treat melanoma?  This article will explain how.

How do I know if I’m at risk for getting skin cancer?

You’re at risk every day you don’t wear sun screen.  Also, tanning beds that use ultraviolet rays (UV rays) are a risk factor.  Ask yourself if there was a period in your life when you were ‘laying out’ a lot, at the beach, in a pool, doing yard work or landscaping or lifeguarding.  These are all common lifestyles we have when we’re young that can come back to haunt us later.

Are there symptoms and what does a melanoma look like?

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There are usually no symptoms and you may not see a change in your skins’ appearance until many years later.  Melanomas can be found anywhere on the body, but concentrate on areas that’s had the most exposure to the sun. Most doctors use the ABCDE method when examining the skin for melanomas.  A=asymmetry B=border C=color D=diameter E=evolution (how the spot has changed over time).  Regular self-examination can literally save your life.

I found a spot, now what?

How do you treat melanoma? By going to see your doctor immediately to get it checked out.  Get a biopsy done which is a small removal of tissue examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.  If the biopsy comes back negative, you’re okay and just keep an eye on it.  If it comes back positive, you’ll need treatment.

Treatment is not that bad if caught early.  Your surgeon will remove the spot or mole under local anesthesia and you can go home the same day.  If it has spread, you may require chemotherapy, radiation, and even immunotherapy to treat it. Lesson1: Be vigilant and don’t procrastinate!

Is getting skin cancer preventable?

Yes!!! Wear sunscreen every day with at least SPF30 or higher that will protect you equally against UVA and UVB rays.  Wear hats, sunglasses, clothing, driving gloves and other apparel that protect UV damage.  (The tag will say UV protection).  Wear sunscreen every single day even if it’s cloudy or raining, especially in the snow.  Re-apply sunscreen at the office after lunch.  Your office lights emit UV rays.  Re-apply at the beach.  Use the correct dosage of sunscreen about 1 ounce for the face and 2 ounces for the body.


The New Age of Aging, Hensley, E 2016 p. 84

Pathophysiology, seventh ed. ,Porth.R, pp. 1611-13


By Skyler West

Piper Skyler West: Piper, a sports medicine expert, shares advice on injury prevention, athletic performance, and sports health tips.