Surprising Truth About Skin Cancer — Just A Skin Issue.It’s a fact that everyone is at risk for skin cancer. It can be caused by sun damage or from using tanning beds and other artificial sources of UV rays.
Most types of skin cancer, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, are curable if diagnosed early. However, melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer.
- You Can Get Melanoma Even If You Have Dark Skin
If you have dark skin, you may be wondering if you can still get melanoma and what your risk is. People with darker skin have more melanin, which helps protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
But the UV rays also damage the cells in your skin and can cause wrinkles, spots, hyper pigmentation (darkening of the skin), and other problems. That’s why sun-safe habits are so important for anyone, regardless of skin color.
However, melanoma in people with dark skin is more difficult to detect than melanoma on lighter-skinned people, and the cancers tend to spread to other parts of the body. This can lead to a lower five-year survival rate for Black patients.
- You Can Get Melanoma On Your Eyes
You’re more likely to develop melanoma in areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun, but it can also form in less visible places, including your eye. Ocular (or eye) melanoma occurs when mutated pigment cells in the eye’s middle layer, or uvea, form cancerous tumors.
Your risk for ocular melanoma is higher if you have a family history of skin cancer or a personal history of melanoma. You’re also more likely to develop it if you take certain medications that suppress or weaken your immune system.
Ocular melanoma is often detected during routine dilated eye exams by an ophthalmologist. These examinations involve dilating the pupil with eye drops, and viewing your eyes with a lighted instrument called an ophthalmoscope.
- You Can Get Melanoma On Your Nails
Most people think of skin cancer as something that occurs on the face, but it can also appear on other parts of the body. For example, it can show up on the scalp or nails.
Subungual melanoma develops under the finger or toe nails, and it can appear as brown-black discolorations in the nail bed. The discoloration may look like a long, thin line or streak, or it can be irregularly shaped.
It can spread quickly, so it’s important to get it checked out as soon as you notice anything unusual. This is especially true if you have dark skin and have been exposed to the sun a lot, or if your family has a history of melanoma.
It’s more common among people of color, but it can be found in anyone. It’s also more difficult to detect on your own, but you can protect yourself by regularly checking your nails for any changes or growths.
- You Can Get Melanoma On Your Feet
You may have heard about skin cancer on the back, neck and legs, but you might not know that it can develop on other body parts, too. One such area is the foot.
Melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, can appear on the soles of your feet. It can be hard to spot, but if you notice any changes in the shape, size or color of your feet’s skin, see a board-certified podiatrist right away.
A dermatologist can use a dermoscope or Wood’s lamp to get a closer look at your skin. This can help the doctor identify a melanoma and treat it sooner.
Another useful tool to remember is the ABCDE rule of melanoma. It can help you tell if a mole is changing in size, color or shape and should be seen by a doctor.