Melanoma 1

Monday, July 12, 2010

We hear that avoiding the sun and using sunscreen is important to prevent melanoma. What is melanoma? In todays 60 Second Housecall, Dr. Edward Hill discusses this deadly disease.

Dr. Hill:

The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with melanoma each year. In the past 30 years, the number of people developing melanoma has doubled.

Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocyte cells in the skin. Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. A mole is a non-cancerous collection of skin melanocytes. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles on their body.

Melanoma occurs when the melanocytes become malignant. This is most common on the skin, but melanoma can occur in the eye or in various internal organs. Melanoma is rare in darker skinned people.

Some risk factors for melanoma include:

Fair skin that burns easily

Family history, in about 10 percent of patients

History of severe, blistering sunburns, especially as a child or teenager

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This is why avoiding the sun and using sunscreens is important.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.