What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin and give color to the skin (NIH). Melanomas commonly begin as moles on the skin, but it can also originate from other pigmented areas of the body such as the eyes and less commonly in the intestines, nose, and throat (NIH; Mayo Clinic).
Risk and Prevention
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the risk is rising among people under the age of 40. Other risk factors for melanoma include: fair skin, history of sunburn, excessive UV light exposure, living closer to the equator, living at higher elevation, having many moles, family history of melanoma, and weakened immune system (Mayo Clinic). To reduce the risk of melanoma, Mayo Clinic recommends wearing sunscreen, avoiding sun contact during the middle of the day, wearing sun protective clothing, avoiding tanning beds, and performing skin checks. If your mole exhibits any of the signs listed below, consult with a dermatologist immediately.
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-Written by Megan Enciso (MPH Candidate USC). Reviewed by Adriana Bakhoum MPH