If caught early, melanoma can be cured
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, responsible for about 75% of skin cancer fatalities, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
There are an estimated 135,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in the U.S. every year.
Every hour, one person in the U.S. dies of melanoma and 15 people are diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
What causes melanoma?
Melanoma is frequently caused by exposure to the sun, which triggers the uncontrolled growth of skin pigment cells or melanocytes. On the surface of the skin, melanoma can look like other irregular, harmless moles. However, beneath the surface there may be a peculiar cellular growth pattern.
Anyone can get melanoma, though it is more prevalent in certain parts of the country and among Caucasians. Dermatologists are especially concerned because melanoma is the most common cancer in people aged 25-29 and the second most common cancer in teens and young adults aged 15-29.American Cancer Society
The American Academy of Dermatology
The Skin Cancer Foundation
Melanoma & Risk Factors
Are you at greater risk? Take Our Quiz.
Have you ever gotten a bad sunburn or have spent time tanning? You may be at greater risk for melanoma. Take our quiz and find out
You may have an increased risk for melanoma:
Even if you answered "no" to all of the questions, but you have a mole that concerns you, you should speak to a dermatologist who will examine your skin and recommend ways to help find melanoma when it's most curable.
Do you have moles that look like these?
How can you tell if it’s a normal mole or melanoma? By doing your self-exam regularly, and seeing your doctor annually for a skin check, you are taking important preventive steps against melanoma.
Don’t Trust Apps
A recent study of smartphone apps by the University of Pittsburgh found that these apps are not reliable tools, with three out of four applications incorrectly classifying 30% or more of melanomas as unconcerning. The worst app was wrong in an alarming 93% of cases. There is simply no substitute for seeing a dermatologist for a full skin cancer check.
Find a Dermatologist Near You.
Know When It’s Not A Beauty Mark
What to look for:
- Any change in a mole, blemish, freckle, birthmark, or pigmented area
- A new mole or freckle that appears out of the blue or is growing rapidly
- A mole that looks different from your other moles
- A mole, or other growth, that has any of the ABCDEPRU* properties
- A change in the surface texture or in the way a mole feels to the touch
- A new "freckle" that is dark, dry, or scaly
- A pigmented area or splotch that is new or that you don't remember seeing before
- A new spot that is black, even if very small
- A mole or other spot that looks or behaves differently than those around it, even if it seems otherwise normal
- A mole or other spot that itches and/or bleeds
- Redness, other color, or shadow extending into the surrounding skin
We continue to push the need for self-exams at home and skin checks by board-certified dermatologists, as the combination of both exams gives a higher likelihood of identifying skin cancer at earlier stages,"
- Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Learn the ABCDs of Melanoma
A sudden change in a mole is a sign you should have it checked by a dermatologist.
Download the Skin and Sun Facts Card