Who is at Risk for Developing Melanoma?

A cancer diagnosis is always a scary thing to face. Melanoma, though rare, can be particularly overwhelming because it tends to spread rapidly and has the potential to affect other organs and tissues in the body. However, with early detection and intervention, melanoma is one of the most highly treatable forms of cancer, with an estimated 94% 5-year survival rate.

Understanding your risks for developing melanoma and the signs to look for could save your life – or the life of someone you love. May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and at Florida Academic Dermatology Center, we want you to be safe and informed about your skin cancer risks and treatment options.

How Common is Melanoma in the US?

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of skin cancer in the United States. Estimates state that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. 

Nonmelanoma skin cancers like Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) are the most commonly diagnosed. These highly treatable forms of skin cancer are slow-growing and typically stay localized to skin cells. 

Melanoma accounts for about 1% of yearly skin cancer diagnoses – about 100,640 new cases are expected in 2024. As a rarer form of skin cancer, melanoma may be diagnosed in later stages, which increases the risks of adverse complications. Knowing the early signs of skin cancer, including melanoma, can make all the difference in your recovery journey.

What are the Early Signs of Skin Cancer?

In many cases, skin cancer begins as a subtle change to the skin that may be easy to miss.

The ABCDEs of skin cancer make it easy to remember the early signs to look for:

A: Asymmetry: one side of the growth does not match the other

B: Border: irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred edges

C: Color: uneven color, typically brown, red, back, pink, white, or even blue

D: Diameter: the growth is more than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch) across

E: Evolving: the growth changes in size, shape, or color

If you notice these signs or suspect a mole or lesion may be cancerous, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist at Florida Academic Dermatology Center as soon as possible. Our skin cancer experts in Coral Gables can perform any additional diagnostic testing necessary and provide the comprehensive, personalized care you need.

Who Has the Highest Risks of Developing Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer affects people of all ages, genders, and racial identities. However, some factors can increase your risk of developing melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancers. These include:

  • Having fair skin and/or light hair
  • Having skin that is prone to freckling or moles
  • Frequent sunburns (more than 5 in a lifetime doubles your risk of developing melanoma)
  • Older adults over the age of 75
  • Family or personal history of skin cancer
  • Smoking, drinking, or recreational drug use
  • Lifestyle factors that increase sun exposure: working outdoors, participating in outdoor sports, etc.

Misinformation about skin cancer may be particularly harmful to minority groups. While skin cancer is less common among black, Hispanic, and Asian communities, when it does happen, it tends to be diagnosed at later stages when it is more challenging to treat. Regardless of skin tone, staying on top of preventative care like annual screenings and self-exams is important.

Skin Cancer Screenings at FADC

The skin cancer experts at Florida Academic Dermatology Center are knowledgeable and experienced in diagnosing and treating even the rarest and most complex forms of skin cancer. Led by Dr. Francisco Kerdel and Dr. Frank Don, our team prioritizes patient-centered care that ensures a comprehensive assessment of any skin concerns. 

Once you book a skin cancer screening in Coral Gables, your skin cancer specialist will conduct a thorough skin exam looking for suspicious lesions, bumps, moles, or other growths. If one is detected, they may conduct a biopsy to confirm if cancerous tissue is present. Should the biopsy test positive for skin cancer, our team can walk you through your next steps, including surgical and nonsurgical treatment options.

Book your skin cancer screening today for peace of mind.

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