Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer commonly seen by dermatologists. It accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed each year, but causes the majority of skin cancer related deaths. Nearly 80,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma and around 10,000 deaths result each year. Idaho actually has the highest melanoma death rate in the country, leading to approximately 60 deaths each year.
Despite being one of the most deadly forms of cancer, melanoma can be detected with something as simple as a brief skin exam. Early detection can give survival rates near 99%, but delays in diagnosis can lead to a much worse prognosis. Most melanomas appear in sun exposed areas like the back, legs, and face, but they can appear anywhere including the bottom of your feet and even in between your toes.
Detection of melanoma can be difficult, which is why it is important to see a dermatologist properly trained to diagnose melanoma at an early stage. Dermatologists at Treasure Valley Dermatology are trained in the latest techniques in melanoma detection including extensive use of dermoscopy to diagnose melanoma as early as possible.
Anyone can develop melanoma, but people with the following characteristics are at highest risk:
- History of significant sun exposure or sun burns
- High number of total moles
- Atypical appearing moles
- Family history of melanoma
- Personal history of previous skin cancer
- Any tanning bed use
- Increased age
- Fair skin
When evaluating your own moles, the melanoma ABCDE mnemonic is commonly used. Features you should look for include:
- B-border irregularity
- C-color variation
- D-diameter >6mm
- E-evolving (enlarging, color changes)
If you have any changing moles, or have any of the risks factors listed above, don’t wait! Schedule an appointment today with one of our skilled providers. It could be the most important thing you do today.