Melanoma of the skin is an increasingly prevalent form of skin cancer, especially in the last 40 years. It can occur anywhere on the skin, and is more common in people with fairer skin tones.
Many more cases are diagnosed in older people, although it is not uncommon for younger people to develop melanoma as well. Women are more likely to develop melanoma on their arms or legs, where men are more likely to develop it on the area from their shoulders to their hips, called the trunk.
Personal health history may play a part in developing the disease, but prolonged exposure to sunlight is a huge factor. Blistering sunburns and tanning beds are two major contributors to developing melanoma, and it often affects both small and large moles. Changes in mole appearance and skin pigmentation are common indicators that melanoma may be present, and it’s dire to get them checked by a doctor. Doctors and nurses can perform a skin exam or a biopsy to confirm the presence of melanoma. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure, using sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds at all costs are easy ways to prevent melanoma.
Although it is a rather common form of cancer, the 5-year survival rate is surprisingly high. The number of new cases each year has yet to significantly decline, but the death rate each year is significantly less than the rate of diagnosis.
This data came from the National Cancer Institute database.