May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and the first Monday in May is Melanoma Monday, which this year falls on May 2nd. Melanoma Monday is an alliterative term designed to make something as important as it is easy to remember. Its goals are to better educate people on the disease, as well as to get them into the habit of checking themselves regularly. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that on average we lose one person to Melanoma every single hour. That’s one person an hour too many.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer, which itself is the most prevalent of all cancers in the world. Melanoma is directly responsible for three quarters of all deaths caused by skin cancer.*
If caught early enough, Melanoma (which can form anywhere on the body, including places you’d least expect) can be effectively treated. If left undiagnosed and untreated however, it will spread beyond the skin and into the internal organs, where it often becomes fatal.
Melanoma is also resistant to many of the treatments employed against other cancers, making it crucial to pay attention to your body for any of its signs.* One good thing is that, unlike those other cancers, Melanoma is usually visible from the start. If you discover any irregularly-shaped or enlarged moles, or any that have changed color, please bring it to the attention of your doctor or dermatologist right away.*
“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure”
That famous old saying applies to Melanoma as much, or even more, than possibly anything else. The best way to beat skin cancer is to simply never contract it at all. And fewer diseases are easier to avoid than Melanoma. All it takes are a few easy precautions. Be sure to wear and frequently re-apply sunscreen whenever you’re outside, driving, or inside near windows. Wear sun-protective clothing. Stay in the shade. Never tan, either naturally or artificially.
Melanoma Monday, like Melanoma Awareness Month, are great because people usually respond better to things that are universally labeled as important. Hey, whatever works. But the key here is to not only pay heed to sun-safety in May, but every month, in every season, throughout the year.
If you do so, you’ve already gone a long way to avoiding Melanoma altogether.
*Additional sources: Whathealth.com, American Academy of Dermatology
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