Anyone can get melanoma. When found early and treated, the successful treatment rate is nearly 100 percent. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and it can spread quickly. When melanoma spreads, it can be deadly. Melanoma is usually, but not always, a cancer of the skin. It begins in melanocytes – the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes. Melanocytes also form moles, where melanoma often develops. Having moles can be a risk factor for melanoma, but it’s important to remember that most moles do not become melanoma. Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. It first begins in the melanocyte cells, which are the cells that produce the pigment melanin. Melanin makes up the colors of everyone’s skin, hair and eyes.
Nearly 65 percent of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds. However, since melanoma can occur in any melanocytes throughout the body, even those that are never exposed to the sun, UV light cannot be solely responsible for a diagnosis. Current research points to a combination of family history, genetics and environmental factors also play a big role in the development of melanoma and skin cancer.
The tanning industry has tried to tell consumers that vitamin D is necessary and that it should be sought from tanning beds. That fact is, all necessary vitamin D can be found in a healthy diet or from a vitamin supplement. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, which can be indicated by lack of nutrient intake or unusual sleepiness, consult your doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis, and not a tanning salon.
There is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanned skin is a result of damage to skin cells. Research suggests that the cumulative damage to skin cells can lead to wrinkles, age spots, premature aging and skin cancer.
Research indicates that just one blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life. In addition, using tanning beds before age 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Occasional use of tanning beds triples your chances.
Melanoma is the second most common cancer in teens and young adults and is the most common type of cancer for young adults. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old and the second leading cause of cancer death in women 30 to 35 years old.
Skin cancer screening is an important part of keeping good skin hygiene. If you notice a mole that differs from others or one that changes, bleeds, or itches, see your dermatologist.