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ABOUT MELANOMA 

The first time the consultant mentioned 'Melanoma' I 'googled' it - I couldn't help myself. The problem is that the internet has so much information on there it is difficult to know if it is accurate or up to date. Research and treatments are developing all the time, information online can become out-dated quickly. So, now I make sure that I go to places where I know I can get information that has been written for people with melanoma and their families. On the support page, you will find a link to these sites, 

The information below has been gathered by the websites that I include on the support page. I only want to give a brief overview here, other Melanoma websites give much more detailed information. 

The first time the consultant mentioned 'Melanoma' I 'googled' it - I couldn't help myself. The problem is that the internet has so much information on there it is difficult to know if it is accurate or up to date. Research and treatments are developing all the time, information online can become out-dated quickly. So, now I make sure that I go to places where I know I can get information that has been written for people with melanoma and their families. On the support page, you will find a link to these sites, 

The information below has been gathered by the websites that I include on the support page. I only want to give a brief overview here, other Melanoma websites give much more detailed information. 

The first time a doctor mentioned 'Melanoma' to me I have to admit, I went home and I 'googled' it - I couldn't help myself. The problem is that the internet has so much information on there it is difficult to know how accurate and up to date it is. As research and treatments are developing all the time, information online can become out-dated quickly. So I now make sure that I go to places where I know I can get information that has been written for people with melanoma and their families, is up to date and is written in conjunction with experts in melanoma. On the support page, you will find a link to these sites.

 I only want to give a brief overview here about what Melanoma is, what the signs are and also sun safety , other Melanoma websites give much more detailed information than I ever could so links are included. 

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in skin cells called melanocytes. These skin cells make a pigment called melanin - this helps protect the body from UV - Ultraviolet Radiation - from the sun. 

The first signs of melanoma is usually a new mole or lesion on the skin or changes to an existing mole. If caught early, melanoma is very treatable but melanoma has the ability to spread and this is why it is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  

If Melanoma is not diagnosed to treated then it can penetrate into deeper layers of skin and then into lymph and blood vessels. It can then spread to distant sites and organs and this is when it becomes metastatic (or Stage 4.) Melanoma commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, bones and brain. For more information on the Stages of Melanoma, Melanoma Focus has very useful information, simply click here.

Melanoma in Numbers 

16,700 people on average are being diagnosed with Melanoma every year in the UK*

Recent figures show that just over 2300 people die from Malignant Melanoma each year in the UK*

It is the 2nd most common cancer in 15-44 year old men*

It is the 3rd most common cancer in 15 - 44 year old women*

86% of cases are preventable*

It is the 5th most common cancer in the UK*

* Stats from Melanoma Focus

Know your ABCs

Make sure that you check your skin regularly and if you spot something you are concerned about make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

 

The ABCDEF rule is a good way of remembering what the signs

of melanoma are..

A symmetry: if the two halves of the mole or lesion aren't the same 

Border: if the edges irregular 

Colour: uneven/patchy, if there are more than two colours 

Diameter: for most melanomas, at least 6mm

Evolving: If it is changing in any way 

‘Funny’: if it looks odd, feels strange or you are unhappy about it 

Not all these signs have to be present and melanomas can vary - so if you are worried about ANY changes at all make an appointment to see your doctor. For more information about how to check your skin Melanoma UK and Melanoma Focus have excellent resources.

Sun Safety and Protection

86% of melanoma skin cancers in the UK are preventable* and the main risk is exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be through natural sunlight or from artificial UV lamps used in sunbeds and sunlights. This UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells that can develop into melanoma. 

Too much exposure to the sun - and resulting sunburn - can increase the risk of developing cancer. It is therefore important that we take good care in the sun and protect ourselves. 

There are some excellent resources online explaining how to do this. I really like the  "Slip, Slop, Slap,Slide, Shade" message from SKCIN: The Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity... to find out more click here

SLIP:        Slip on clothing to protect yourself from the sun - long sleeved tops, trousers, long skirts 

SLOP:      Slop on a broad spectrum suncream at least factor 30+ (protecting from UVA and UVB) that is rated at least 4 or 5                         stars and make sure that it is in date - usually they have to be used within 12 months of opening.

SLAP      Slap on a broad brimmed hat

SLIDE:    Slide on quality sunglasses - NHS recommends glasses that are wrap around or that have wide arms and also  

                  sunglasses with a CE Mark and British Standard Mark 12312-1:2013E**

SHADE:  Seek shade and avoid the sun between the hours of 11-3        

       

* statistic from Cancer Research UK - to find out more click here

** Info from NHS - to find out more click here

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