While you may not be aware of it, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. If you are the family caregiver of an aging loved one in the Bay Area, you may have questions about melanoma considering older people tend to have more dark spots, skin discolorations, moles, etc. The fact is, most cases of melanoma are noticed by the person who has the problem or a family member rather than a doctor! This is why it’s so important to be aware and know more about this skin cancer – it could save a life. Our Bay Area in home caregivers have a few tips to help you be “in the know” about this common condition.
Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, however it’s also the most deadly. By age 70, about a fifth of individuals get some type of skin cancer. Melanoma is most common in white men, although anyone who has been exposed to UV rays frequently over the years may become a victim.
While melanoma can be hereditary, this isn’t often the case. Most cases are the result of exposure to UV rays. Only about 8 percent of cases are hereditary, and those who have the mutated genes CDKN2A AND CD4K are most likely to develop melanoma.
Someone may have melanoma for many years before noticing symptoms. This depends on the type of melanoma, as a radial melanoma slowly spreads while a nodular melanoma may grow very quickly over just a few weeks. Radial melanoma is more common in young people; nodular melanoma appears as a mole with a dome-shaped, firm symmetrical lump that may be black, red or skin colored, but may also bleed or look/feel crusty.
While some melanomas produce no symptoms, others may produce symptoms such as redness, pain, itching, swelling or tenderness. Just as moles may be flat or raised, the same is true with melanoma. What you need to look for is changes in what you thought was a mole, border irregularity, diameter, asymmetry and color variation.
The most common area where melanoma may be located depends on gender. In women, it typically develops on the arms or legs; in men, it may appear on the head, neck, back or torso. However it is important to know that melanoma isn’t confined to these areas and may be found on any area of the body.
As with any type of cancer, early detection is key. When not detected, this cancer can enter the lymph nodes, kidneys, brain, pancreas and other organs or systems of the body, making it far more deadly. When detected early on, the 5-year survival rate is about 99%.
If you suspect anything at all appears strange or different with your loved one’s skin, see a doctor immediately.
Need assistance caring for an aging parent or loved one in Campbell, San Francisco or the East Bay? At Care Indeed our in home care professionals provide a wide array of services customized to your family’s needs. Call us today and rest assured your loved one will receive compassionate care and companionship.