The number of cases of melanoma that are diagnosed yearly has been increasing at a rate greater than any other cancer. Some of this may be due to a greater awareness of the disease in the general population, as well as increased screening by doctors. It is important that melanoma is identified early because it is a very treatable disease if caught early. In fact, the majority of melanoma cases that are diagnosed yearly are at a very early stage and can be managed with surgery alone. Therefore, any mole that has changed or any new, abnormal appearing skin lesions should be promptly evaluated by a physician. Melanoma is a cancer of cells called melanocytes, which are the cells that produce skin color or pigment. Most skin cancers arise in the flat, scale-like cells called squamous cells, or the round cells under squamous cells called basal cells. Squamous or basal cell cancers, or carcinomas, are highly treatable by dermatologists. Melanocytes are found primarily in the skin, but also may be found in the eye, digestive tract and lymph nodes. Malignant melanoma of the skin is the most deadly of the three types of skin cancer and usually begins with a mole
The number of cases of melanoma that are diagnosed yearly in the United States has been steadily increasing. In 2007, it is estimated that there will be 59,940 new cases of melanoma and 8,110 deaths. The estimated lifetime risk of developing melanoma is 1 in 74. (www.umgcc.org/medonc_hemat_program/melanoma-riskfactor.htm) Skin type: People who are of white racial background are up to 10 times more likely to develop melanoma than those of other racial groups. In addition, white people with red hair and blue eyes seem to be at a particularly high risk for developing melanoma. Sun exposure: Intermittent or recreational exposure to sunlight, especially with a history or severe, blistering sunburns, increases a person's risk of developing melanoma. People with a history of at least 10 blistering sunburns...
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