What is Your Risk For Melanoma?
Do you know your risk for Melanoma? Your own personal risk? If you like to get out and ride in the sun, chances are that you will have recieved enough sun to have damage. Maybe even increase your risk for melanoma.
Have I been asking myself “what is your risk for melanoma, my personal risk?” No, I really had not considered my risk for melanoma!
Not until I began to learn about Melanoma. Yes, I knew it was a serious form of skin cancer. In my mind, this form of skin cancer is kind of an oddball branch that happens for no reason and to other people.
While these ideas have some truth in them, melanoma is also caused by too much sun exposure. The risk is one you take every time you get too much sun on your skin.
So what are we talking about when we talk about your risk of melanoma? How can you reduce your risk?
Consider for a moment your daily habits. Do you smoke? Smoking puts you at a higher level for any kind of cancer or illness. Are you having problems with your immune system? Is your diet healthy or filled with empty calories?
Do you drink alcohol? Especially while you are out in the sun with friends? Alcohol dilates your blood vessels. You will get hotter quicker and allow the sun to affect you more when you are consuming alcohol.
What You Can Control
While there are a few factors that go with developing melanoma that you have little control over, maybe awareness will allow you to do what you can.
Usually, the people who have the highest risk of developing melanoma are men. As with all skin cancers, melanoma is an accumulation of exposures. By the time they are 50 years old, men began to find that skin cancers are showing up.
As with all skin cancers, more cases of melanoma are showing up with the warming of the world. The dissolving of the Ozone layer, that one layer of the stratosphere did more than we realized. The trend now is for skin cancers to appear earlier in the patients’ life. So the disease that a few years ago only happened to “old people” is happening to my friends and my kids!
Review Of Risk Factors
Some members of your family may not sunburn as quickly as the others do. However, you are all at risk for developing skin cancers and melanoma. Some of us may develop skin cancer with very few experiences of overexposure. That is just the risk we all have. Why we must all be more cautious.
So let us look again at the more complete risks list. This could spark an idea of how you can really make a difference for yourself.
Your age, your race, your family history with melanoma are parts of the risk that you can do nothing about.
Are you fair with light-colored hair and/or eyes? These factors may cause you to need to take extra precautions. That is something you can do.
More of the risk factors include:
- How often you expose your skin.
- Do you work outside?
- Are you out in the sun during the high-risk times of 10 AM until 4 PM? This does not mean you won’t sunburn at other times, you can burn but it usually takes a bit longer.
- Are you spending your time in the sun on cement, snow, water? These surfaces reflect suns rays and add to the risk factor.
- Drinking alcohol while in the direct sun is also a factor we touched on earlier.
- According to the Center for Disease Control, cases of melanoma have doubled during the past three decades here in the United States.
- One person will die of melanoma every hour, every day. (I had no idea the the death rates were this high)
Facts About Melanoma Risks
While we are trying to remember more about this deadly form of skin cancer, a few more facts can help you understand why helping your family become safer through prevention is important.
Don’t think your kids are too young. Age seems to be changing for the victims of this cancer.
- Your risk of melanoma is higher if one or more of your immediate family (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) had melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.
- Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in white people than for black peope. The lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.5% (1 in 40) for Whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for Blacks, and 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics.
- 99,780 people in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with new melanomas in 2022.
- Melanoma is the cancer most often diagnosed among the 25 to 29 year olds in the United States. For 15 to 29 year olds, it is the third most common for men and fourth most common for women.
- Even though the average age of people who are diagnosed with melanoma is 63, melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women).
- An estimated 7,650 people in the United States are expected to die of melanoma in 2022—about 5,080 men and 2,570 women.
Your eyes are at risk when you are not wearing good UV-blocking sunglasses. Cataract surgery is needed earlier with the warming of the world. This was once not even considered for clients until you were close to 70 years old. It is happening quite often to those in their late 50s or early 60s.
This frightening increase in younger patients needing cataract surgery reinforces the importance of wearing your sunglasses. Every day when you are exposed to UV rays.
Sunglasses are an important part of your basic sun blocking clothing wardrobe. Often sunglasses are not considered an item of clothing. Sunglasses are an important part of the sun blocking gear that you can use to protect your eyes, along with your wide brim hat and sun blocking shirt.
Skin cancer on Our eyelids is quite common, especially for athletes who practice and play mostly outside. Golfers are often victims of this skin cancer as they are often older, and have many exposures.
Your sunglasses should fit well, a wraparound style is good, or oversized lenses. Protect your eyes.
What Can You Do
Just because you have one of the risk factors that increase your chances for skin cancer, and melanoma, does not guarantee you will have the condition. Many who have few or no known risk factors may have some form of skin cancer.
This is one of the reasons you need to know where you are with risk factors for melanoma or other skin cancers.
While you may have risks that you can do nothing about, like what you are born with, there are some things you can do. Lowering your personal risk of any form of skin cancer is what you can do to reduce your chance of these diseases in your lifetime.
When you are aware that your skin burns easily, you know to protect it with sunscreen and sun blocking clothing. As research is showing, using both sun blocking clothing and sunscreen together offers a better way to protect your skin from the sun, and from higher risks of skin cancer and melanoma.
Several risk factors can make a person more likely to develop melanoma. If you know you are at a higher risk, you can take better precautions. You can help yourself stay protected from the sun. Just remind yourself if you are a higher-risk individual. Remind yourself to take the time to protect yourself.
You Don’t Have Skin Cancer?
You Don’t Have Skin Cancer, Yet
Avoiding tanning beds is one of the things you can avoid, even if you have some peer pressure. The ultraviolet rays that are used in a tanning bed are seriously dangerous for your skin. Even with sunscreen! Melanoma is the result of too much ultraviolet light on your skin.
Melanoma rates that are rising for those who were using tanning beds when they were under 30 years old have jumped. Be sure and advise your dermatologist if you were one who did tan at a younger age.
You may not avoid the problems of skin cancers by avoiding the sunbeds, but by continuing to use the tanning beds, you will surely make the problems apparent sooner.
Be aware that the aging of your skin is not something you will appreciate from using the sunbeds.
Ultra Violet rays are only a small part of the sun’s rays, yet they are the main cause of the sun damaging your skin. UV rays damage the DNA or the genetic code that manages your cells.
The individual cell damage is mostly from the UV Rays. This particular sun ray can destroy the cell’s ability to reproduce itself as needed. When your skin cells are not able to replace and regrow properly, is the start of what can become skin cancer.
The damage is permanent, and one you can be aware of and protect yourself from.
Just Another Warning
While learning about all skin cancer, we are focusing on melanoma in this article. This form of skin cancer is so serious that I wanted you to understand your risk of melanoma.
The frequency of your exposure to the UV rays and the part of your body exposed seem to follow a trend. When melanoma occurs on your chest, back, and legs, these locations seem to be linked to frequent sunburns including those in your younger years.
These areas are not always exposed to the sun’s rays. You are often covered in these areas by clothing. This seems to suggest that melanoma that starts in these areas are different from the ones on your neck, nose, face, ears, and other places that receive exposure very often.
Also, there seems to be a difference in the melanomas on the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet. You can develop melanoma under your nails, or internal surface like the vagina or inside your mouth. These places receive little or no exposure to the sun’s rays.
When learning about melanoma the mole connection made me stop and think, which is what awareness should do for us.
The presence of the mole on my neck at the jaw bone hasn’t bothered me. At least not physically. It is still worrisome appearance-wise. I do wish I didn’t have it but would require putting me to sleep to remove it. This makes me know I am at a higher risk.
Moles are usually non-cancerous, have some color, and are a form of tumor. Babies are not usually born with a mole. However, moles begin to appear on children and young adults.
If you have many moles, the moles will seldom cause any problems. However, someone who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
Moles that are atypical look a little like normal moles, but also have some characteristics of melanoma. These are usually larger and have a bit different shape or/and color. These kinds of moles can appear on parts of your body that are exposed to the sun, as well as on parts never exposed.
If your Mom or Dad or Grandparents or other members has the atypical mole syndrome, you will have a higher chance of developing the moles. Also, your chances of developing melanoma are higher, with or without the moles. Pay attention. Protect yourself.
Fair Skin, Freckling, And Light Hair
There is a higher risk for melanoma for white skin than for African Americans. Those with blonde or red hair and the blue or green eye color and/or light white skin that freckles and sunburns quickly are at higher risk.
Have A Family History Of Melanoma?
Yout risk of melanoma is, as you would expect higher if one or more of your immediate family has had this cancer. The increased risk may be because of a family lifestyle of frequent sun exposure.
Maybe a family trait of light skin that freckles. Could be shared gene changes or mutations that run in a certain family. Or maybe just a combination of these factors. Research is ongoing and will reveal someday the actual causes. This will allow for more accurate skin protection.
Most skincare experts recommend that people who have the higher risks;
- Get regular skin exams by a dermatologist
- Examine your own skin once a month
- Be particularly careful about sun protection and avoiding manmade UV rays (such as those from tanning beds)
- Know your risk factors and plan to make use of sunscreens, sun blocking clothing and avoiding exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM. Protect your skin.
- Be aware that having melanoma in the past makes you more apt to have it develop again.
Do You Have A Weakened Immune System?
Your immune system helps fight cancers of your skin, as well as your other organs. If you have a weakened immune system from certain diseases or medical treatments, you will be more likely to develop one or more of the many types of skin cancer, including melanoma.
These conditions change your risk for melanoma, and not in a good way.
People who get organ transplants are usually given medicines that weaken their immune systems. This is done to help prevent them from rejecting the new organ. This kind of treatment increases their risk of melanoma.
Then, if you have HIV or AIDS, you will often also have a weakened immune system. Having a weakened immune system is a big risk factor for melanoma development.
Living Longer Risks Reviewed
Melanoma is more likely to develop in older members of our family. However, it is also found in younger people. In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people younger than 30 (especially younger women). So if melanoma runs in your families they may occur at a younger age.
In the United States, younger men have a higher rate of melanoma than women. Before age 50, the risk is higher for women; after age 50 the risk switches and is higher in men.
How does this information of the higher rate of melanoma for women under age 50 affect you? Then after age 50, the risk is higher in men. Will this make you stop and think about too much sun time in the more direct times of the day?
Can you adjust your schedule and plan to enjoy being outside and having fun in the sun before 10 AM or after4 PM?
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is rare. This is an inherited condition that makes skin cells’ ability to repair damage to their DNA weak and not very effective.
People with XP have a high risk of developing melanoma as well as other skin cancers when they are young, especially on sun-exposed areas of their skin.
If you know this condition runs in your family, protect your skin with sun blocking clothing.
For a child to have xeroderma pigmentosum, the gene is passed from both parents. This is a rare situation as most die or becomes disabled before reaching childbearing age.
The condition is rare and serious. You will sunburn in only a few minutes. Serious sunburn. So when you have this condition, you are aware of it early in life.
When you have this condition, your chances of melanoma are greatly increased.
So What Is Your Risk For Melanoma
You have heard about the risk factors for melanoma. This form of skin cancer is in a tumor form and can usually be cured when found early. It can be fatal when ignored. As with all risks, managing the risk factors can help protect you. Will you wear sun blocking clothing? Use full-spectrum sunscreen of 30 or higher?
The ease of use for sun blocking clothing makes taking better care of your skin in the sun easier. You don’t have to keep reapplying to keep the garments protecting your skin from the sun. All you have to do is wear them.
Making some lifestyle decisions to live a safer life in the sun will help protect you from the problems that can occur with too much sun.
Consider the measures you can use to enjoy being out in the sun, but protect yourself. Give yourself a long and safe life.
Sami’s Take On Your Risk For Melanoma
As we become more aware of the ways too much sun can harm our skin and health, we must make better decisions. Decisions about how much sun we are going to allow on our skin, and how much we are going to push the risk factors.
It would be stupid for me to get careless about skin protection from the sun at this point in my life. My kids would also be acting foolishly to get too much sun, even though they are much younger.
Knowing the risks we face, and having sun blocking clothing to help protect our skin will make it easier to stay safe.
Knowing to avoid the more direct sunray time of the day. Opting for a safer time for being out in the sun will help as we all learn to live with a bit more caution. And hopefully less skin cancer.
How will you adjust your present skincare routine for a safer skin cancer-free life?