5 Tips for Spotting Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers


A family history of melanoma increases the risk of developing the disease in individuals. By the time you’re 18, if you’ve had five or more blistering sunburns, you’re at an increased risk of developing skin cancer, according to Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff, the president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. “That’s like smoking increasing the risk of lung cancer,” he says.

The colour of your skin also plays a role. According to the American Cancer Society, people with light skin, blond or red hair, blue eyes, or many freckles and moles are more likely to develop skin cancer than people of colour. This is due to the fact that most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun, and darker skin has a lower risk of being affected by this.

However, skin cancers can appear in areas of the body that are rarely exposed to the sun, such as the hands and soles of the feet, the mucous membranes (gums, lips), and the nail beds in people of all races. As a result of their late detection, these cancers have a higher mortality rate.

Even though melanoma is more common among the elderly, skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age. Among those under the age of 30, especially women, it is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “new moles that appear after the age of 30 should always be suspected.” Check with a dermatologist if in doubt, as many are harmless.

5. Consult a Dermatologist if You have any Concerns

Identify any unusual spots on your body before your doctor’s appointment, and have your entire body examined. Ashwani Rajput, the director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center for the D.C. region, who treats melanoma patients, said that “every square centimetre of skin” is affected.

If you wear makeup, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you remove it before your exam so that suspicious moles can be spotted more easily.

Don’t be embarrassed, Dr. Sarnoff advised, saying, “You’re here to have your skin examined.”