The more you mela-KNOW-ma
may save your life!
Cutaneous Melanoma Prevention & Early Detection
Repeat sunburns, intentional tanning and using tanning beds can increase your chances of developing melanoma.1,2 PREVENTION is key when it comes to melanoma. Make sure these items are in your Melanoma PPE Kit:
Sunscreen should be applied every day, regardless of the amount of sun. The sunscreen should be:
- Broad spectrum
- SPF 30 or higher
- Applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating, using one ounce (a golf ball size amount) with each application
In addition to sunscreen, whenever spending a lot of time outdoors, be sure to wear:3
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Wide-brimmed hat
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m.–2 p.m.3 When it’s not possible to stay in the shade think about using an umbrella.
Sunscreen pro tip:
Water, snow and sand reflect and magnify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn when not wearing sunscreen.1
Your Daily Routine
- What’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?
- Is sunscreen safe for children?
Adding sunscreen to your daily routine only takes a few minutes!
may save your life!
You are most likely to first spot a melanoma on your skin. It’s important to know your skin and its moles and other characteristics so it’s easier to identify any changes early. Knowing the ABCDEs and how to conduct your own skin exam may be lifesaving.
What does melanoma look like?
Like fruits and vegetables, sometimes it may be hard to tell when something on your skin goes from normal to problematic. Melanomas may vary from person to person, but if you suspect that an area on your skin fits one or more of the following descriptions,4,5 talk to your doctor right away.
A change on the skin — this could be a new spot, or a change in color, shape or size of a current spot
A spot, sore or mole that doesn’t heal, becomes painful or tender
A mole that becomes itchy or begins to bleed
A spot, sore, mole or lump that looks shiny, waxy, smooth or pale
A firm red lump that bleeds or appears ulcerated or crusty
A flat, red spot that is rough, dry or scaly
A black/dark spot or streak under a fingernail or toenail (that doesn’t come from previous trauma to the nail)
Ocular Melanoma Prevention
& Early Detection
Ocular melanoma (OM) is an aggressive form of melanoma and is the most common form of eye cancer in adults. It is diagnosed in approximately 2,000 Americans each year. There are no specific PREVENTION recommendations, but limiting UV exposure by wearing sunglasses may be helpful.6
OM is often detected during a routine eye exam, so scheduling your yearly exam that includes a dilated eye exam as recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology is the best form of EARLY DETECTION.7 Report any eye changes:
Development of a dark spot (or a “freckle”) on your eye
Vision changes such as blurriness or a blind spot
The sensation of flashing lights
Change in pupil shape
Diagnosing OM at an early stage is important for a better outcome.8
Mucosal melanoma is a rare form of melanoma that occurs in the mucosal surfaces of the body such as the sinuses, nasal passages, oral cavity, vagina, vulva, anus and other areas. Unlike most cases of melanoma of the skin, mucosal melanoma is not considered to be related to or affected by UV exposure. Additionally, there are no obvious identified risk factors, not even family history, so PREVENTION strategies aren’t identified yet.9 Lacking an identifiable culprit and given its rare occurrence, most cases of mucosal melanoma are quite advanced once identified.
A variety of healthcare providers should be involved in the
EARLY DETECTION of mucosal melanoma. Be sure to see:
Hover over the items below for more information.
Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT)
An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) if you experience a nasal mass, a lesion in the nostril, persistent nosebleeds, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, neck swelling or throat pain.
A dentist for an assessment if you have a sore or lump on your lip, gum tissue, roof of mouth or elsewhere in your mouth that does not heal, bleeds and causes pain.
A gastroenterologist (GI) if you suffer from rectal bleeding and pain that mimic hemorrhoids, unexplained weight loss, unusual abdominal pain, decreased appetite, nausea or vomiting.
A gynecologist (GYN) for evaluation of non-menstrual vaginal bleeding or other discharge, a lump or mass on the vulva or vagina, vaginal itching or pain, blood in the urine or difficulty urinating.
Many of these signs and symptoms9 can be caused by issues other than mucosal melanoma,
but immediate evaluation for any of these issues can be lifesaving.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association, https://www.aad.org/public/evients/sunscreen-faqs
- Dennis LK, Vanbeek MJ, Beane Freeman LE, Smith BJ, Dawson DV, Coughlin JA. Sunburns and risk of cutaneous melanoma: does age matter? A comprehensive meta-analysis. Ann Epidemiol. 2008 Aug;18(8):614-27. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2008.04.006. PMID: 18652979; PMCID: PMC2873840.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/tips-stay-safe-sun-sunscreen-sunglasses
- National Cancer Institute, https://moles-melanoma-tool.cancer.gov/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/symptoms.htm
- American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/eye-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html
- American Academy of Ophthalmology, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/screening
- American Academy of Ophthalmology, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/ocular-melanoma-symptoms
- Mihajlovic M, Vlajkovic S, Jovanovic P, Stefanovic V. Primary mucosal melanomas: a comprehensive review. Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2012;5(8):739-753.
Content last updated August 2021.