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Melanoma is not always caused by the sun. It can develop at any age and anywhere on the body. This includes skin that may never have seen a single ray of sun.

Melanoma is the leading cause of death for women aged 25 to 35, excluding accidents.

Melanoma is 99% curable if caught early, it is virtually 100% fatal if caught late.


Increased incidence in young women, because of tanning bed use.

Increased mortality in males over 50, because of delayed diagnosis.

One in 60 in the US can now expect to develop malignant melanoma during his or her lifetime, as opposed to one in 250 in 1980.

More than 91,000 cases of invasive melanomas and more than 87,000 in situ melanomas will be diagnosed this year.

  • More than 1,300,000 Americans are living with melanoma right now.
  • Caucasians and men older than 50 have a higher risk.
  • The incidence for men over 80 is 3 times higher than women of the same age.
  • Melanoma develops in 4 out of 100,000 Hispanics and in 1 out of 100,000 African-Americans, but is often diagnosed late and therefore has a worse prognosis. It is most commonly located on nailbeds, lips, palm and soles, areas without skin pigment.



Use a sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day.

Enjoy the outdoors, but be “sun-smart”: protect yourself from the sun.

Parents with young children:

  • avoid sun exposure from 11AM to 3PM
  • be diligent with application and reapplication of sunscreens
  • teach your children proper use of sunscreens because teachers and counselors are not allowed to touch children anymore.

Melanoma is a killer. Do get regular total skin checks by someone who is willing to take the time.

Do not use tanning beds. The catastrophic effects of this habit are only beginning to emerge.


Catching melanoma early could mean the difference between life and a life-threatening cancer. Knowing what to look for and performing regular self-skin exams may help you become more aware of unusual spots that should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

Melanoma spots are asymmetrical skin growths that have jagged edges and an uneven color. Spots are usually elevated, so they will stand out from regular skin. Some signs that usually stand out are spots that grow larger or change in shape, texture, or size.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, so it can spread without treatment. This type of melanoma is called metastatic melanoma. When melanoma becomes metastatic, someone may experience swollen lymph nodes, difficulty breathing, headaches, seizures, weight loss, and fatigue.

Your dermatologist is able to perform surgery to excise (and, in mild cases, entirely remove) a melanoma. Another procedure is Mohs surgery, which involves removing very small layers of skin at a time until no abnormal cells remain. This helps preserve as much healthy skin as possible. Depending on the extent of the melanoma, other treatment options may include lymph node dissection or partial amputation.

Additional symptoms of melanoma are slow-healing wounds, pinkness or redness around an abnormal growth, moles that begin oozing or peeling, and excess itchiness.