Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious, as it spreads more quickly, affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Fortunately, early detection makes treatment more effective and can save your life.
While anyone can develop melanoma, certain factors elevate your risk. At Manhattan Dermatology in New York City, our dermatologists specialize in early detection and treatment of melanoma and other skin conditions.
Since our team understands the importance of catching melanoma early, we’ve gathered the information you need to protect yourself. Keep reading to learn about seven risk factors for melanoma and how to spot key changes that could signal something’s wrong.
Risk factors for melanoma
Several known risk factors increase your chances of getting melanoma. We may talk to you about getting skin cancer screenings more frequently than once a year if you have one or more of these seven risk factors:
- Fair skin and eyes
- Very freckled skin
- A large number of moles
- Age spots
- Red or blonde hair
- A family history of melanoma
- An organ transplant
Regardless of how many risk factors you have, you should have an annual skin cancer screening to promote early detection. With early treatment, 99% of melanoma patients make a full recovery.
By the time you notice an obvious abnormal spot or mole, melanoma may be in the later stages, making it more difficult to treat.
Detecting melanoma early
You may worry that a new mole or freckle means you have skin cancer. While these skin developments can indicate skin cancer, they can also be a normal part of how your skin changes. Here’s a quick guide for the signs of melanoma:
- A large, brownish spot with dark flecks
- A mole that bleeds or changes in color, size, or texture
- Dark, painful lesions
- A flat, scaly lesion
- A hard, red bump
- A tan or brown flat lesion resembling a scar
- A bump with a pearly or waxy look
This list is a good starting point to identify signs of melanoma, but it's difficult to spot problems since moles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Use a trick called the ABCDE method to help you identify problem moles. Look for moles or spots with these characteristics:
- Borders or edges that are irregular, notched, or blurred
- Color that changes or is inconsistent
- Diameter greater than a quarter inch
- Evolving or changing in shape, size, texture, or color
Learn more about your risk of developing melanoma by contacting us at Manhattan Dermatology. Our offices are in the Murray Hill or Midtown East sections of Manhattan. Call the office nearest you or book an appointment online now.