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Melanoma

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

 
  • It can spread quickly to other areas of the body, such as the liver, lungs, and brain.
  • It appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in color, size or shape.
  • This type of cancer can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun.

Melanoma Statistics

  • 1/ 74 Canadian men are expected to develop melanoma in his lifetime.
  • 1/90 Canadian women are expected to develop melanoma in her lifetime.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Developing Melanoma?

Be sun-safe:

  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or when the UV Index is 3 or greater.
  • Protect babies from the sun. A child’s skin is more sensitive and thinner than an adult’s, so they burn more easily.
 

 

Stay in the shade.

  • It’s not always possible to avoid the sun, but you can still protect yourself by finding shade.
  • Shade can reduce your UV expose by 50% or more. Do outdoor activities under a tree, umbrella, or in the shade of a building.
  • Create your own shade by planting trees or by using partial roofs, awnings, gazebo, or tents.

Do not burn or tan - it only takes one blistering sunburn to double the chance of developing melanoma!

  • Wear sun protective clothing including long sleeved shirts and pants, and a wide- brimmed hat.
  • Wear sunglasses with UVA & UVB protection, or UV 400 protection to help prevent damage to your eyes such as cataracts or cancer around the eyes.
  • Apply sunscreen -UVA & UVB protection [broad-spectrum] with a SPF 30 or greater, prior to going outside and then every two hours or sooner if swimming, drying off or sweating. Sunscreen is meant to increase your protection from UV rays when you have to be outside – it is not meant to be used so you can stay out in the sun longer.
  • Apply lip balm with SPF 30 or greater

Never use indoor tanning equipment

  • Do not use indoor tanning equipment – they cause cancer! They are classified in the same cancer risk category as tobacco, arsenic and asbestos. Individuals under the age of 30 who use tanning equipment are 75% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than those who have never used tanning equipment.
  • Tanned skin = damaged skin. Even when the tan fades, the damage is still there!

Early Detection

  • With early detection and proper treatment of melanoma, the survival rate is approximately 90%
  • Check your skin head-to-toe every month - Look for the following signs on your skin (in a new spot, or an existing mole or coloured spot):
    • Asymmetry (one side appears different than the other)
    • Border (i.e. irregular or jagged)
    • Colour (changes colour, or varying colours within the spot, or an unusual colour)
    • Diameter (greater than 6mm, but may be less)
    • Evolution (changes shape, colour, or size, or if it feels different [i.e. itchy, tender, bleeding])
  • 5 steps to skin cancer self-examination
  • If you have any concerns or notice any of the above signs, report such findings to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • Have your skin examined by your healthcare provider as part of a yearly health checkup.
 
Date of creation: May 4, 2015
Last modified on: March 19, 2019

References

1Canadian Cancer Society. (2012). Sun & UV. Retrieved from
http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/live-well/sun-and-uv/?region=on
2Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Indoor Tanning. Retrieved from
http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/live-well/sun-and-uv/indoor-tanning/?region=on
3Canadian Dermatology Association. (2012). Sun Safety. Retrieved from
http://www.dermatology.ca/skin-hair-nails/skin/sun-safety/
4Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation. (2012). Artificial Tanning Beds. Retrieved from
http://www.canadianskincancerfoundation.com/tanning-beds.html
5Cancer Care Ontario. (2015). 2015 Prevention System Quality Index. Retrieved from
https://www.cancercare.on.ca/psqi?utm_campaign=PSQILaunch&utm_source=temp4&utm_medium=email&utm_content=EN
6International Agency of Research on Cancer. (2009). Sunbeds and UV Radiation. Retrieved from
http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2009/sunbeds_uvradiation.php
7Melanoma International Foundation. (2014). Melanoma Facts. Retrieved from
http://melanomainternational.org/melanoma-facts/#.VJHIIRAtxI0
8Slevin, T. (2014). Sun, Skin and Health. Collingwood VIC, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.