Unlike other cancers, melanoma can often be seen on the skin. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin. In men, melanoma may often be found on the head, neck, and back. In women, melanoma may often be found on the back or lower legs. Melanoma forms in the epidermis and can grow down into the dermis.
Melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer because it can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Once it reaches the dermis (thick layer below the epidermis), melanoma can easily spread through the blood and lymph vessels. It is extremely important to find and remove melanomas early, so it is important to check your skin regularly!
The leading cause of melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources (such as tanning beds). There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan – tanned skin is damaged skin!
Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide. In Canada, incidences of melanoma have more than tripled in the last 30 years and continue to rise. Over 1200 Canadians will die from melanoma each year. Survival rates are high if melanoma is detected early.