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Melanoma

Melanoma is a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. It accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed each year, but causes the majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Each year nearly 80,000 people in our country are diagnosed with melanoma and around 10,000 people are expected to die from it. Idaho is wonderful for all its sunshine and outdoor activities, but this comes with a cost. Idaho actually has the highest melanoma death rate in the country, leading to approximately 60 deaths each year. 

Melanoma is a scary disease, but fortunately it is one of the only cancers that can be detected with something as simple as a brief skin exam. When detected early, survival rates are near 99%, but delays in diagnosis can drop that number significantly. Melanoma tends to develop in sun-exposed areas, but can develop anywhere including the bottom of your feet and in between your toes. That is why it is important to have a thorough examination by a trained medical professional if you are at higher risk for melanoma or if you have any concerning spots. This is also why you should be careful to examine your entire body about once a month for signs of skin cancer. 

Anyone can develop melanoma, but people with the following characteristics are at higher risk:

  • Increased age
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Personal history of previous skin cancer
  • High number of total moles 
  • Atypical appearing moles
  • Fair skin
  • History of significant sun exposure or sun burns
  • Any tanning bed use

In order to help patients when looking at their own moles, the melanoma ABCDE mnemonic is commonly used. The criteria to identify moles of concern are displayed in a helpful graphic to the right.

If you have any spots that fit these criteria or have other significant risk factors for melanoma, please schedule an appointment right away. Any of our excellent medical providers will be happy to evaluate your moles.

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