As we enter Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to think about how we can support and advocate for those affected by melanoma and skin cancer. Learning about the signs and symptoms of melanoma and skin cancer, as well as the different types of treatments available, can help you better understand the challenges faced by those affected and help you be a more effective advocate.
This year, 89,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma and skin cancer. Each day, 22 individuals in Canada receive a diagnosis of melanoma, and tragically, approximately 3 Canadians will lose their life to melanoma.
HERE ARE FACTS THAT COULD SAVE A LIFE
What is Melanoma? Melanoma, an extremely severe form of skin cancer, originates from melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that provides skin its colour. When our skin is exposed to UV light, melanocytes produce more melanin. Since most melanocytes reside in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, melanoma is often visible on the skin and can occur anywhere on the body.
Am I at higher risk for Melanoma? Melanoma is one of the few cancers with incidence on the rise. Melanoma does not discriminate and can affect any sex, age, or race.
- People with fair skin, light-coloured eyes, and a history of sunburn or excessive sun exposure are at higher risk for developing melanoma.
- Individuals with skin of colour are 4x more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma at a more advanced stage.
- A single blistering sunburn before age 20 increases the risk of developing melanoma later in life.
- One indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer
How do I detect Melanoma? When spotted early, melanoma has an 85% cure rate. The survival rate for melanoma is high if caught early, and unlike other cancers, melanoma is often clearly visible on the skin. Use the ABCDE’s of melanoma to check your skin monthly; if you detect any changes to your moles, contact your doctor for a referral to a dermatologist.
How can I prevent Melanoma and Skin Cancer? UV radiation is responsible for 85% of skin cancers. Exposure to the sun and other sources of UV radiation can be detrimental to the skin, eyes, and immune system. Overexposure to damaging UVR is the leading preventable risk factor for the most prevalent type of melanoma.
- Three ways to block the rays are to: generously apply SPF 50+ sunscreen every 2 hours, cover up with clothing with UVA/UVB sun protection, and seek shade between Peak UV hours 11 AM- 3 PM March to October.
- You should avoid artificial tanning devices since they emit 15x the amount of UV rays compared to sun exposure. Using such devices increases the likelihood of developing melanoma by up to 75%.
This month, help us raise awareness about melanoma and skin cancer by sharing informative articles, graphics, and videos on your social media accounts and including #MelanomaAwarenessMonth @Melanoma Canada.