One of the great and very real dangers of suntanning with tanning beds or the sun is melanoma. I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the symptoms of melanoma and when to seek help. Having a close friend fight for her life against melanoma led to my creating this site to promote the necessary alternative of a sunless spray tan. With this article, I hope to help you identify melanoma symptoms.
What Is Melanoma?
Even though melanoma is one of the rarer skin cancers, it causes a vast majority of deaths related to skin cancer. Melanoma is a malignant tumor which results from overgrowth of skin pigment cells called melanocytes. It can also occur in your bowels and in your eyes, but it is much more common on the skin and so that specific type of melanoma will be the focus of this article.
While genetic predisposition can also have a hand in developing symptoms of melanoma, the major contributor to developing this specific form of cancer is ultraviolet radiation, frequently referred to as UV Rays. The main source of UV radiation is, of course, the sun. However, tanning beds have become more common and thus are contributing to this UV radiation damage as well.
UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, which can create mutations in the cell’s genes. As these mutated genes split and multiply, the mutated versions may lack normal attributes which regulate cell growth. So as mutated genes split, multiply and further mutate they may begin to grow uncontrollably. This is what ultimately leads to tumor growth. It is important to identify melanoma symptoms as early as possible during this mutating process.
To help you remember how to recognize melanoma cancer symptoms, dermatologists have developed a mnemonic device called ABCDE to help you monitor changes with moles on your skin. In this context, the first five letters of the alphabet stand for the following symptoms:
- Asymmetrical: The mole or skin lesion appears asymmetrical, uneven instead of round or square.
- Border: The mole or skin marking develops a faded or irregular border.
- Color: Watch for multiple colors within the mole.
- Diameter: Watch for moles larger than the eraser on a pencil (or about 5 mm).
- Evolution or Elevation: For evolution, watch for visible changes in a mole over time. This especially includes sudden growth. For elevation, watch for moles which become raised, like a bump protruding from the skin.
Should you identify any of these indications of melanoma, it doesn’t absolutely mean you’ve developed an unstoppable case of malignant melanoma, but I encourage you to contact a dermatologist to be certain.
Furthermore, if you experience more than one of the above symptoms and any one or more of the following later symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Bleeding skin lesions or moles.
- Itching moles
- Moles which ulcerate (develop coming and going sores)
Reading this list encourages greater appreciation for airbrush tanning systems, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to scare you, but the simple fact is that melanoma is one of the deadlier cancers to develop. If you have any kind of family history of skin cancer and/or you’ve experienced either severe sunburns in your youth or consistent sun exposure as an adult, you should really monitor your skin carefully for these symptoms.
I encourage regular exams with a medical professional experienced with identifying skin lesions. There are parts of our bodies where this form of skin cancer can develop but we may have a difficult time seeing. For example, it isn’t uncommon for people with thinning hair to experience frequent burns on their scalp and develop melanoma where they would have a difficult time spotting it. Even advanced symptoms may be difficult for you to find or identify, so please see a dermatologist.
The earlier you begin melanoma treatment the better chance you have of completely eliminating this potential tragedy from your life. So don’t procrastinate this matter if you see these defined melanoma signs on your skin.
Thank you for reading. I hope I’ve helped you to better understand and monitor the symptoms of melanoma, and why you should shield yourself from the sun and opt for a sunless spray tan instead._____________________________________