Melanoma Risk Factor Quiz

The following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing melanoma.

The more factors applicable to you the more likely you are to develop a skin cancer–including melanoma.

Please review the questions and comments below. If you see a question that you answer YES to, open up the dialog to learn more.

1. Do you have any moles that look unusual, or are changing? Do you have a lot of moles?

Signs of an usual mole include what is known as A,B,C,D,E: As is for Asymmetry is when the two halves of a mole don’t match. B is for Borders: normal moles have smooth and even borders, while abnormal moles have uneven, irregular, scalloped or notched borders. Having a variety of or unusual Colors or unusual colors (red, white, blue, black) is a warning sign. Diameter can be a clue, as an unusual mole that is larger in diameter than the eraser on a pencil (1/4”) can be concerning. A mole that starts to Evolve or change in any way (change in size, shape, color, thickness/elevation, or begin to bleed, itch, crust, is a non-healing sore) is a significant warning sign. Any moles with any of the ABCDE signs should be examined, preferably with a dermatologist trained in dermoscopy, and a biopsy may need to be performed. These ABCDE’s may be a sign of a melanoma, but they can also be signs of precancerous moles (called dysplastic or atypical moles), but can also sometimes be seen in normal lesions. Photography can be useful in monitoring these moles for changes.

It is important to have any mole with any of the ABCDE signs present examined as soon as possible, as skin cancer may be easily cured if detected early.

Call our office today at 651-484-2724 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. Your call may be life-saving!

2. Have you ever used a tanning bed?

People who use a tanning bed, booth, or sun lamp have an increased risk of developing all types of skin cancer as well as prematurely aging their skin. UV exposure from indoor tanning is classified as a human carcinogen (causes cancer in humans).

Tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users. People who begin tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a much greater risk of getting melanoma, as the use of tanning beds before age 30 increases your risk of developing malignant melanoma by 75%.

The use of indoor tanning beds as well as recreational sun tanning outdoors is also discouraged. Every time you tan, you increase your risk of getting skin cancer, including melanoma. Tanning also causes premature skin aging, like wrinkles and age spots, changes your skin texture, and increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases (cataracts and ocular melanoma).

Because of the increased risk with purposeful tanning, especially with indoor tanning, it’s strongly recommended to avoid tanning. If you still wish to have a darkened skin color, use self-tanners, make up, or spray tans.

[Visit websites of: Melanoma Research Foundation, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Dermatology for more information.]
Call our office today at 651-484-2724 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. Your call may be life-saving!


3. Have you had extensive sun exposure, outdoor work or leisure, or a severe sunburn?

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun plays a major role in the development of skin cancer. People who spend a lot of time outside, especially during the midday hours, live at or travel through high altitudes, and/or in areas with bright sunlight year-round are significantly increased risk.

UV exposure increases risk of deadly melanoma, and also the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. While UVB radiation causes sunburn and does not penetrate through car window or other types of glass, UVA is able to pass through glass to cause aging and wrinkling of the skin in addition to skin cancer.

And, if you’ve had a precancerous or previous skin cancer, it’s very likely that you will develop others.

Therefore, it is important to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB, using broad spectrum SunScreen, sun protective clothing, and minimizing exposure during peak sun (midday)hours, and have a yearly Skin Cancer exam.

Call our office today at 651-484-2724 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. Your call may be life-saving!

4. Do you have any family members who have had Melanoma, or other skin cancers?

Approximately 10% of people with melanoma have a family history of the disease. If a person has a close relative (1st degree relative: parent , brother, sister, or child) who has been diagnosed with melanoma, his or her risk of developing melanoma is 2-3 times higher than the average risk.

Although less than with a 1st degree relative, there is also an increased risk if a 2nd degree relative (grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin) has been diagnosed with melanoma. This risk increases if several family members who live in different locations have been diagnosed with melanoma.

It is recommended that close relatives of a person with melanoma routinely have their skin examined. As a child, any unusual looking moles should be examined, with full Skin Cancer Exams beginning at age 21.

Call our office today at 651-484-2724 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. Your call may be life-saving!

5. Is your immune system stressed or less effective for any reason?

Some reasons for the immune system to be less effective include medical conditions ,including autoimmune diseases (thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 Diabetes, lupus, adrenal problems), loss of the thymus organ, inflammatory diseases, cancer, genetic immunodeficiencies (HIV/AIDS), acquired immunodeficiencies from being on medicines that suppress the immune system (treating autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, or medicines used after organ transplants), declining immune response with increasing age (immunosenescence), chemical dependency, obesity, malnutrition.

If you have any of these factors, regular full Skin Cancer exams at least once yearly are very important, with more frequent exams recommended with certain of the above conditions.

Call our office today at 651-484-2724 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. Your call may be life-saving!

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