Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in the United States, but the positive of this is that it is also one of the most curable forms of cancer as well. If caught early, melanoma can generally be cured and those who have it can go on to live a long, healthy life. The important thing here is when the melanoma is caught and addressed. This is why you should know the facts and the signs that you should be on the lookout for so you do not ignore something that could be taken care of quickly and easily without much stress on your body.
These facts are good for anyone, but should be shared with your loved ones who may be living independently so they can be on the lookout as well. For someone who is aging in place, by themselves, it is critical that they are aware of the facts about melanoma so they can be on the lookout for it on their own bodies as they take care of themselves. Knowledge is power and in the case of melanoma there is plenty of knowledge to be had that will be powerful in protecting yourself and your loved one from this dangerous disease.
First and foremost you should know what you are looking for when it comes to spotting melanoma on your body. If you are regularly doing scans of your body, when you are in the shower or when you are getting dressed you should be on the lookout for the following;
- Moles that are rough-looking and do not have any clearly defined borders. These moles may also be asymmetrical which is a sign that they are of concern.
- Skin spots that consistently grown and change over time are also of concern when you are conducting a once monthly body scan. If you notice a change in a spot on your skin you should report it to your doctor immediately.
Your body scan that you perform each month should be over your entire body. It is a myth that melanoma can only affect the parts of your body that regularly receive sun. In fact, all parts of your body can be affected by melanoma including places where the sun doesn’t generally hit like the bottom of your feet or the palm of your hand. There are other more unusual places where melanoma can form like under your fingernails or toe nails and even in your mouth. Your once monthly scan should encompass a thorough look at your whole body and you should utilize a mirror for hard to investigate spots. Any change in coloration or size of a spot should be investigated further with the help of a medical provider.
While many people assume that a melanoma will be a darkish brown color, that is not always the case. Some melanoma can present as a red-colored rash. If you find a red or pink colored rash on your body you should first attempt to address it with a topical cream and if that does not help it go away you should immediately see a medical provider. Melanomas can take on other colors too as some will lose their pigmentation all together and present as a pure white spot on your skin. This would be another cause for getting your skin looked at by a provider.
The many variations of melanoma that can present themselves can be overwhelming and a cause for alarm, because this type of cancer is something you want to catch early so it can be treated. The bottom line to all of these facts are that if you see something that is changing on your skin you should speak with a medical provider and get it checked out. There is no harm in being overly protective of your skin, the harm becomes when you ignore these changes which can then turn into serious health conditions.
If you are the caregiver for a loved one who is aging in place you may need to help her/him conduct a monthly check to make sure everything looks ok. While she/he may not spend much time in the sun there are always chances that melanoma can present in a variety of places and ways and without a monthly check up it can be missed and cause medical conditions that are too severe to treat. Stay on top of these checks and your loved one can live a happy and independent life.