Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a kind of skin cancer. It is
sometimes called malignant melanoma. Melanoma is becoming more common every
year. This is a very serious kind of skin cancer that can cause death. If this
cancer is caught early, when it is very small, it can be cured. A melanoma can
grow in a mole that you have had for years. Or it can grow in a spot that never
had a mole.
What does melanoma look like?
Melanomas can have many different looks and can
occur any place on the body. It is important to see your doctor if you get a new
mole or if you have a mole that is changing in the way it looks. A melanoma is
usually irregular in shape, with blurry edges. One melanoma may have many
different colors in it, like black, brown or tan. A melanoma can be flat or
raised. Your doctor may not be able to tell if a mole is a melanoma just by
looking at it. Your doctor may have to do a biopsy to find out for sure if a
mole is a melanoma. To do a biopsy, your doctor cuts out the mole and sends it
to a lab to be looked at under a microscope.
How can I keep from getting
The most important way to prevent melanoma is to
limit your sun exposure. Here are some ways to do this:
- Avoid the strong midday sun between 10 a.m. and 3
- When you are outside, try to spend your time in
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat (to shade your face and
protect your ears).
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants while
out in the sun.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. SPF
means "sun protection factor." Put the sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go
outside. Put it on again every 2 to 3 hours and after sweating and swimming.
- Do not use sunbeds or tanning salons.
- If you are worried about a spot on your skin,
tell your doctor about it.