7 MYTHS ABOUT MELANOMA
Estee Williams MD
Board certified dermatologist
Myth #1 – Melanoma is rare.
Melanoma is one of the few preventable cancers whose incidence continues to rise, especially in young women age 18-30.
Myth #2 – People with dark skin tones don’t get skin cancer.
Everyone is at risk for melanoma. Patients with skin of color may develop other types of melanomas, but everyone is at risk.
Myth #3 – If I avoid the sun, I won’t get skin cancer.
Melanoma is known to develop even on skin where the sun don’t shine. In fact the most common location of melanoma in women is on their thighs.
Myth #4 – Melanoma starts off as a beauty mark (mole).
Only a fraction of melanomas start out as normal beauty marks, and the vast majority start off as melanoma from Day 1. Still, in early stages, some slow-growing melanomas can look normal. Dermatologists can take advantage of dermoscopy and other imaging tools to detect subtle features. Moley people at greater risk in general, and especially people with abnormal moles (“dysplastic nevi)”. But each mole individually has a tiny risk of turning into cancer if it is a normal mole.
Myth #5- Melanoma is a brown lesion that grows in the skin.
Pink, gray, black… the many shades of melanoma! There is even an unusual variant called “amelanotic melanoma” which sounds like an oxymoron- these lesions are not brown at all. And, the skin isn’t the only place where melanoma can arise. Think the white of your eye, the back of your eye, the inside of your mouth, and on the nails.. even the rectum. When you see your dermatologist, make sure you remove your nailpolish.
Myth #6- Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer, from the outset.
The good news is that melanoma is entirely curable if detected at an early stage. So, see your doctor. Wear sunscreen. See your doctor. Check your moles. Wear sunscreen. See your doctor. Check your moles. You get the point……
Myth #7 – Melanoma is always treated with chemotherapy.
When caught early, melanoma is removed with a simple procedure in the office, all while you’re awake. This is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Get your yearly #skincheck!