Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. (4) Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The concern is that melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide, particularly in those under the age of 30. Melanoma has soared by 50 percent in young women since 1980. (1)
“One-in-50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma.” (1) The American Cancer Society estimates for 2013 that there will be 76,690 diagnosed with melanoma and 9,480 deaths. “This means that every eight minutes, someone in the United States will be given a melanoma diagnosis and that every hour someone will die from the disease.” (1)
Prevention of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are paramount, which is why organizations such as the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) strive to educate patients and support research to find treatments to cure melanoma.
The Melanoma Research Foundation was founded in 1996 by a melanoma patient/activist, Diana Merriweather Ashby who lost her battle with the deadly cancer in 1997 at the age of 34.
EmpowHer interviewed Shelby Moneer, Education Program Manager from the MRF about what they believe is important for people to know to prevent the occurrence of melanoma.
What group (age, ethnicity, economic) do you think are the most likely to ignore symptoms of melanoma and why?
There is a common misconception that individuals of African American or Asian decent won’t be diagnosed with melanoma. While the likelihood is certainly lower, everyone is at risk for the disease. It’s important that all individuals, regardless of age, ethnicity or socioeconomic status be diligent about monthly and yearly skin exams and also with sun safety.
What do you think is important for these groups to be aware of?
It’s important for people to know that melanoma is more easily treated in the early stages, but if left untreated and/or undiagnosed, it has the ability to spread to the lymph nodes and to distant organs, including the brain, lungs and liver, which more often than not, leads to death.
What actions should people take to avoid getting melanoma?
Shelby Moneer :
The first, or primary prevention, refers to limiting UV exposure. This encompasses sunscreen use, seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding tanning beds.
Our secondary prevention effort refers to early detection. This includes yearly exams by a professional, monthly exams by you and being aware of any new or changing lesion.
What else should people know about treatment of the other types of melanoma?
Shelby Moneer :
Cutaneous melanoma, or melanoma of the skin, is the most common form of melanoma. Mucosal melanoma and ocular melanoma (the second most common type of melanoma) typically have fewer warning signs and are often diagnosed at a later stage, making the prognosis much more serious.
Many people don’t know that famous reggae singer Bob Marley died from melanoma that was found underneath his toenail.
The MRF website contains a variety of educational information geared at different audiences as well as profiles of other patients who have been treated for melanoma who want to share their experiences with others.
1. Melanoma Statistics & Facts, Melanoma Research Foundation. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
2. Email Interview with Shelby Moneer May 15, 2013.
3. Melanoma Research Foundation.
4. Skin Cancer Facts. Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith