Before we discuss the top 5 places on the body where skin cancer is found, I wanted to provide an overview on the seriousness of the condition. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer that if not caught in time, can spread to the lymph nodes to other organs of the body. The American Cancer Society estimates 91,270 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the US in 2018 – 1,880 in Arizona. It is estimated that this year there will be 9,320 deaths from the condition. Did you know Bob Marley died from Melanoma?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) were diagnosed in 2012 making it the most common cancer in the U.S. Major risk factors for developing melanoma include a personal or family history of melanoma, the presence of atypical, large, or numerous (more than 50) moles, heavy exposure to all types of radiation, which include excessive exposure to sunlight or the use of indoor tanning units.
Although most cases are caused by ultraviolet rays, it doesn’t mean living in Phoenix, Arizona is more dangerous. To be honest, I think people in Arizona protect themselves better due to the intensity of the sun during the summer. Consider some of the 16 states that are estimated to have more cases of melanoma cases: Indiana, Michigan, Washington, Massachusetts and New York. To me, this proves that education on prevention is where the opportunity lies.
Even if it doesn’t seem that hot outside, exposure to the sun can still be damaging. California and Florida are projected to have the highest rates of melanoma (9,830 and 7,940 respectively), proving this assumption. A cool ocean breeze doesn’t protect your skin. Knowing where skin cancer is found will help you prevent situations that can be troublesome.
Monthly self skin exams are the best way to get to know your body, learn what is on your skin and monitor changes. Remember, cancer is a rapidly reproducing tumor which means it does not stay the same size or shape over time.
For example, if you had a mole for 20 years that has not changed in size, color or appearance it’s probably a healthy mole. You can learn more about what to look for by using the ABCDE method (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving). But for now, let’s focus on where skin cancer is found most.
Although these are the most common areas where skin cancer is found, it’s always best to inspect the entire body when you can. Ultraviolet rays can creep into places we’d least expect due to unorthodox body positions and reflected light. Melanoma can alter your life. Doing all you can to prevent a life changing event is worth it in the long run. Worst case scenario is you have peace of mind with it all.
The best ways to reduce your chance of developing skin cancer include:
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