Melanoma skin cancer starts in melanocyte cells of the skin. A cancerous (malignant) tumour is a group of cancer cells that can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
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The skin is the body’s largest organ. It covers your entire body and protects you against harmful factors from the environment such as hot temperatures and germs. The skin is important for many body functions.
The skin has many functions. It:
The main risk factor for lentigo maligna is too much unprotected exposure to the sun. Older age also increases your chance of developing lentigo maligna.
A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. The most important risk factor for melanoma skin canceris ultraviolet radiation (UVR)
from the sun and indoor tanning.
The number of new cases of melanoma skin cancer has increased in both men and women over the past 30 years. More men than women develop it. The chance of developing melanoma skin cancer increases with age, but it is also found in adolescents and young adults (15 to 29 years of age).
There is convincing evidence that the following factors increase your risk for melanoma skin cancer.
Being in contact with ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the most important risk factor for developing skin cancer. The sun is the main source of UVR. Indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is also a source of UVR.
Having a tan means that your skin has been damaged by contact with UVR. UVR can cause sunburns, premature aging, cataracts and skin cancers.
Most cases of melanoma skin cancer are caused by contact with UVR from the sun. It could be from being in the sun on and off during your lifetime or being in the sun early in your life. People who have had at least one blistering sunburn as a child or teenager have a higher risk of developing melanoma later in life. The more sunburns you have had, the greater the risk of melanoma.
You may lower your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by doing the following.
The best way to lower your risk of developing skin cancer is to protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Check the daily UV Index. Listen to the weather forecast to find out how strong the sun will be each day. Try to lower the amount of time you spend in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or more. In Canada the UV Index can be 3 or more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it’s cloudy.
Seek shade or create your own shade. Cover up as much of your skin as you can with tightly woven clothes or clothes that are labelled UV-protective. Wear a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck. Wear close-fitting sunglasses in a wraparound style that have UVA and UVB protection. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
Take extra care when enjoying outdoor summer and winter sports such as swimming, skiing and snowboarding. UV rays from the sun can be reflected by water, sand, pavement, snow and ice.
Protecting children from the sun may greatly reduce their lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Protect babies from direct sunlight by keeping them in a covered stroller, under an umbrella or in the shade. Try to set a good example. If you practise sensible sun habits, your children will too.
Indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds or sun lamps, gives off UV radiation that is up to 5 times stronger than the midday sun on a summer day. The Canadian Cancer Society believes that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed by law to use indoor tanning equipment.
Melanoma skin cancer statistics
To provide the most current cancer statistics, statistical methods are used to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths until actual data become available.
Incidence is the total number of new cases of cancer. Mortality is the number of deaths due to cancer.
In 2017, an estimated:
Be Sun safe
No one is completely safe from the sun. In Canada, sunlight is strong enough to cause skin cancer, premature aging of the skin and harm to the eyes. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it’s also one of the most preventable.
Check out the articles below to learn why it’s so important to protect your skin and your eyes, plus tips on easy ways to do it.
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