Melanoma is one of the most damaging skin cancers. Though the exact cause is not known, there are many factors which contribute to the risk of melanoma.
Excessive exposure to sun, UV rays or even tanning bed is among the leading factors which increase the risk. Those who have multiple moles of a considerable size are also more at risk.
People who have had at least one blister due to sunburn are also in the high risk group. If there is a family history of melanoma, especially if a close member has it, there are chances that the person may have inherited a damaged gene which causes melanoma.
It should also be known that people with fair or very light skin who are exposed to sunburns are more at risk. Afro-Americans or people with genetically dark skins are less in danger to develop this cancer as their skins don’t get easily damaged when exposed to the sun.
The risk of melanoma increases with age. People who have risk factors are more prone to the disease as they reach or cross their forties. Pre-menopausal women are a high risk group especially if there are other factors involved.
Those who belong to the high risk group or have a genetic disposition towards melanoma should take adequate care when going out in the sun. The skin should be well protected with the help of suntans and other items like umbrellas, hats and scarves.
The warning bells should start ringing, when an existing mole shows signs of changes. This could include a change in size, color or shape of the mole. It can also appear in the form of a new mole.
The mole may be asymmetrical, look ugly, the color may bled into the nearby skin, have a rough edge etc. These are only a few signs and in case of doubt a doctor should be consulted immediately.
All those who are over forty should be extra careful in the sun and take appropriate steps to protect the skin from exposure, especially if they are being exposed to the sun after long period of time. Sunburns after the age of forty could mean a high risk for skin cancer.
People who are genetically prone to melanoma should take adequate care to avoid sun exposure and also undertake routine skin tests to rule out melanoma. Even small changes in moles or the appearance of moles should be taken seriously and discussed with the physician.