SKIN CANCER + THE ABCDE’S OF IDENTIFYING SKIN GROWTHS AND CHANGES
Melanoma is the most dangerous, deadly form of Skin Cancer. About 65% of Melanoma is attributed to UV damage done by exposure to the sun, much of which may not be easily apparent. Early detection is crucial to effective treatment. Regular skin checks must be done at home, in addition to routine dermatologist checks. Because melanoma can disguise itself as a strange looking mole, be sure to review the ABCDE rule for skin cancer to properly identify abnormal growths. The basic ABCDE warning signs to determine whether a mole is a melanoma are as follows, (American Academy of Dermatology, AAD 2009):
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
SKIN CANCER: THE FACTS, THE STATS, THE TRUTH
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.
- Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
- Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
- Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, typically diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans. Approximately 65 percent of all squamous cell carcinomas arise in lesions that previously were diagnosed as actinic keratoses. In patients with a history of two or more skin cancers, 36 percent of basal cell carcinomas arise in lesions previously diagnosed as actinic keratoses.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US. BCCs are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
- Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.
- About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
- Treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers increased by nearly 77 percent between 1992 and 2006.
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes).
- One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
- The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent.16 The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.
- The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.
- The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers. Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually.
- An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US in 2011 — 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive, with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.
- Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases,20 but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
- Survival with melanoma increased from 49 percent (1950 – 1954) to 92 percent (1996 – 2003).
- Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and sixth most common for females.
- Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
- About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
- One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.
- Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.