What is it?
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer that results when cancerous cells start to grow in melanocytes(cells that produce melanin) These are the cells responsible for giving the skin its color. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women but they are uncommon in areas which are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp. Melanoma can spread to other organs in the body even in the eyes. Although the condition is rare, doctors are diagnosing a larger number of people with melanoma than ever before.
What are the symptoms?
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new, unusual growth or mole or a change in an existing mole. In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for a mole which changes progressively in shape, size and/or colour.
- Use sunscreen
- Dress sensibly in the sun.
- Regularly check your skin for early diagnosis
- Use the mnemonic device “Slip! Slop! Slap … and Wrap!” to remember to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes against the sun’s rays
- Avoid excessive or prolonged sun exposure and getting sunburned particularly if you have pale skin and many moles.
- Sunbeds, tanning beds and sun lamps should be avoided
Things to watch out for
Immediately contact your GP if you see a new mole or any change in the existing mole