Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer by a wide margin. There is a variety of different types of skin cancers that someone may develop at some point in their life. One of the most concerning types of skin cancer is melanoma.

Like other forms of cancer, melanoma forms when the cells in the body grow into a mass of cancerous cells. In the case of melanoma, the cells that are affected are the melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells responsible for producing melanin, which gives the skin a tan or darker color.

Melanomas can form on any area of the body, though they most commonly form in areas like the face, back, legs, arms, and other places that are frequently exposed to sunlight. They can also form on areas that do not receive large amount of sunlight, like the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.

Symptoms and Signs of Melanoma

Some of the most common early signs of melanoma are a new dark spot on the skin or a noticeable change in an existing mole. These changes can pertain to the shape, size, or color of the dark spot or mole. Another indication could be a mole or dark spot that has a noticeably different appearance compared to others on the skin.

Other signs to look out for include an irregular border around the mole or dark spot, changing colors within the same mole, changes in shape and color over time, and asymmetry between different halves of a singular mole or dark spot.

The Importance of Regular Screenings for Melanoma

When it comes to treating melanoma, early detection is essential. If melanoma is caught early, the chance of successfully curing it is significantly higher. Some people also have a higher risk of developing melanoma, which makes early detection and regular screening for melanoma very important.

Just how important are regular screenings for melanoma? A study recently published in The British Journal of Dermatology studied 43,762 residents of Queensland, Australia, who were within the age range where the chance of developing melanoma was high. The study identified those who had undergone a skin cancer screening prior to the baseline set at the start of the study. Participants were also asked to fill out a comprehensive melanoma risk factors survey.

During the study, researchers calculated the incidence of confirmed melanoma cases among the patients being studied between the second and seventh years of the study. Researchers then measured the rate of biopsies performed amongst these patients between the second and sixth years of the study.

Once concluded, the study found that there was a clear higher rate of early detection in patients who underwent skin cancer screenings and a higher rate of biopsy in those patients. It should be noted that some of the melanomas discovered and treated through these screenings may have been indolent with a low chance of leading to death.

Taking the Steps to Protect Yourself

Whether you have a high risk of developing a melanoma or you just want to make sure that your skin and body are as healthy as possible, regular skin cancer screenings performed by a skin cancer expert are important for early detection. Dr. Massey is a renowned cosmetic and skin cancer surgeon who is dedicated to helping keep all of our patients safe and healthy. Contact our office today to schedule your skin cancer screening.