Childhood Melanoma

Melanoma is truly an awful disease. Whether an afflicted adult ultimately survives an advanced case on not, he or she will suffer significant physical and emotional trauma throughout the entire exhaustive process. Just imagine a child having to experience that. Children, who are just getting started in the world, should never have to suddenly face their own mortality.

Unfortunately, melanoma doesn’t care. And that, along with a greater need for skin cancer awareness and education, is why we continue to lose countless brave pre-teens and adolescents. Among them are the late Jillian Beach, 15 and Bethany Cobb, 11; pictured here respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s our determined mission to do everything possible to help prevent children and their families from having to deal with this; the worst form of skin cancer. With that in mind..

Some Information on Childhood Melanoma

Melanoma can develop on anyone at any age, but there are some differences in the disease between adults and juveniles. To be more specific, we’ll turn to these quotes from the cited Dermnet of New Zealand material linked below:

Regarding children from birth up to age 10:

Superficial spreading melanoma is less common in younger children and melanoma has the ABCDE criteria in 40% of cases. Melanoma in young children is more commonly amelanotic (red coloured), nodular, and tends to be thicker at diagnosis than in older children and adults.*

It’s also important to remember that melanoma may present itself as pink or flesh-colored. This can be deceiving when looking for darker-toned moles and blemishes on light skin.

Dermnet continues with youths 11 to 18:

Melanoma in older children appears similar to melanoma in adults; it presents as a growing lesion that looks different from the child’s other lesions. Most are pigmented. About 60% have the ABCDE criteria…”*

We want to add that 40% is the rarer, yet more lethal, nodular melanoma. To learn more about that version, please click HERE.

Once melanoma is diagnosed, its potential treatment is chosen by doctors from the same pool of options used for anyone; regardless of age.

Please note that within the skin cancer community, “ABCDE” is a linguistic device used to help people remember what to look for in moles and other skin blemishes. The letters stand for the following: A= Asymmetry, B= Border, C= Color, D= Diameter, E= Evolving.

We’ve saved perhaps the most important item for last, as that way it’s more likely to be remembered. It’s so vital because everything you’ve read above can be completely avoided- if you just keep this one simple thing in mind:

The cure rate for melanoma detected early enough hovers around 100%.

In those instances, the initial (or follow-up) biopsy, (a quick procedure to remove the impacted tissue performed right in a doctor’s office) is actually the cure itself.

That means there would be no need at all for chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

In the coming weeks, you can expect to read more from us on melanoma right here on this blog. We ask only that you apply what you learn, and spread the information on to others.

It is no understatement to that if you do, you could very easily save a life.

*Additional Sources: Dermnet of New Zealand

*To visit our websites, please click:  skincheck.org and/or melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Self-examining for Early Signs of Melanoma

Self-examination is among the most vital weapons we all have in the fight against melanoma. There is no doubt that the more people the melanoma awareness community can reach with this message, the more lives it can save.

Why is Self-Examination So Important?

As that is a fair question, we’ll give you two excellent reasons. The speed at which melanoma is discovered and treated is literally the difference between life and death. If diagnosed early enough, it can be cured quite easily. If too late, it can (and will) spread throughout the body and then painfully attack our other organs until it turns fatal.

Another fact is that patients first discover their melanomas more often than their doctors will. And of course, many of us don’t visit our physicians regularly enough to depend on them to sufficiently monitor our skin.

A Few Notes About Self-examination

The good news is that self-examination is a simple process, and takes only ten minutes or so per month. For those who may need extra motivation, please note that almost every melanoma fatality could have been prevented by early self-detection.

Furthermore, around 30% of melanomas develop onto areas of our skin that are rarely, if ever, introduced to the sun. So even if you do see your doctor on a schedule, he or she likely wouldn’t examine you in some of those areas anyway. Unless you bring it to their attention.

Performing Your Self-examination

There are two main forms of melanoma: Radial and Nodular. Nodular is the less common of the two, but it’s also deadlier. And though rare, our percentage chances of developing it are much higher in our adolescence and teenage years than they are after we reach adulthood. To learn much more about nodular melanoma, please click HERE.

This is how you search for radials:

On the parts of your skin that you can easily see, (arms, front/sides of legs, between fingers, toes, palms, soles, under finger and toenails) check for any new or existing moles, blemishes and marks with irregular shapes and/or dark colors. Also, note any that turn itchy and/or begin secreting fluids.

Use the combination of a full-length mirror and a hand mirror to check your back, back of legs, ears, armpits, neck and private areas. Employ a hairdryer to move your hair around as you check over your scalp.

Here are a couple of tips to make it even easier than that:

If you have a spouse, significant other or trusted friend, ask him or her to check your back and ears.

Many of us get our hair styled or cut every month or two. If this includes you, excellent. Simply ask your barber or stylist to alert you if he or she comes across any odd marks while performing their task.

For an easy access to this process, just save and print out this diagram:

Also, please click HERE to view a short Melanoma Education Foundation YouTube video that shows the ease of self-examination:

Gender, Ethnicity and Melanoma

While it’s true that Caucasians and other pale-toned ethnicities are more likely to develop melanoma, it’s equally true that anyone of any age, gender or skin color can develop it, too. In fact, though it’s certainly more common in white people, once it appears it’s more often fatal to African-Americans.

Melanoma can begin anywhere on our bodies. If you’re a Caucasian man or woman, this diagram will show you the percentage breakdown of where it occurs:

If you’re Asian, Hispanic or African-American, it can be most commonly found on your hands, feet, toe and fingernails, and between the toes and fingers themselves. Indeed, legendary singer Bob Marley’s ultimately fatal Melanoma began in his toe.

Please, take just a few minutes out of each month to protect your health.

*To visit our websites, please click: skincheck.org and/or melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Radial and Nodular Melanoma

Skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer, and its worst form is melanoma. Today, we’d like to talk a little bit about the two main types of melanoma: radial and nodular. You wouldn’t want to develop either, as both can end up being just as fatal. However, of the two, nodular is worse.

Nodular Melanoma

More often than not, nodular melanoma will present itself on an area of skin that was previously free of blemishes. Less common, but still feasible, is for it to piggyback onto a mole that was already there.

So, what do they look like? To borrow from one of our own two highly-informative websites, they’re often dome-shaped. Also, “The colors of nodular melanomas are usually black, blue-black, dark brown, or brown-red. However, occasionally they are red, pink, grey, flesh-tone, or light to medium brown.”

A primary difference between nodular melanoma and other skin cancers is that it starts under the skin, and as such is harder to detect at its outset. As you’ll read many times to come on this blog, as well as any other material on skin cancer that’s worth its salt, nothing is more vital to potentially curing a melanoma patient than the speed of its discovery and treatment. The last thing anyone would want to do is disregard the initial warning signs of a melanoma that gives itself a head start.

To better assist people with keeping track of what to look for, an easy way has been developed to remember the properties of a nodular melanoma. Simply use the sequential letters EFG: E = Elevated, F = Firm, G = Growing.

Once we reach adulthood, our chance of incurring a nodular melanoma drops to around 20%. However, in our pre-teen and adolescent years, those numbers hover between 40% and 60%. If you’re a parent, we urge you to keep these figures in mind and talk with your child(ren) about the importance of practicing sun-safety.

Radial Melanoma

Radial melanoma presents visibly on the surface of the skin from its very beginning. It spreads slower than the nodular version but, if ignored long enough, it too can- and often does -lead to the same ill-fated result.

Radials are asymmetrical in shape, grow larger than a pencil eraser, and can feature an array of different colors. They may also impact an existing mole. So, it’s important to alert your doctor or dermatologist if you notice a familiar mole begin to get larger, change color, texture, become itchy and/or start secreting fluids.

As radials progress, their hues turn darker. When a melanoma begins to transform on our skin from horizontal to vertical, it’s like turning over an hourglass. Sooner or later, time will run out. Time is of the essence, and monthly self-examinations are paramount.

The reason Melanoma Awareness organizations focus so much on encouraging self-examinations is because most melanomas aren’t discovered first by doctors. They’re discovered by their patients.

Of course, with that said, unless you have a Doctorate of Dermatology hanging on your wall, don’t try to self-diagnose. A skin blemish may look very similar to a picture of melanoma you find online, yet turn out to be nothing at all. Conversely, a new mark that appears normal may be anything but. Please let your doctor make the determination.

To read a melanoma overview that’s been conveniently condensed onto one page, please click here. The more you learn about melanoma, the safer you can make yourself- and anyone else you may be responsible for.

Please help us to help you. Thank you.

*Additional source articles include: Skinvision.com

To visit our websites, please click:  skincheck.org and/or melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Introducing the Melanoma Education Foundation’s New Blog

Welcome to the Melanoma Education Foundation’s (MEF) inaugural blog post. In the weeks to come, we’ll be bringing you updates and information relevant to our foundation’s goals; as well as other news that is specific to Melanoma and skin cancer awareness.

With this initial post, however, we’d like to tell you a little about ourselves, our goals, and what to expect going forward. This is so that we may acquaint ourselves with those who are learning about us for the first time through this blog.

Our nonprofit organization was founded by Steve Fine in 1999, the year after his son Daniel tragically succumbed to Melanoma at only 26 years old.

Steve has since never wavered in his ambition to spare adolescents and teenagers from Melanoma; the worst form of skin cancer. If not caught in time, the disease is often fatal. However, if discovered in its earliest stages it can be easily cured. With Melanoma, the time it takes to detect and treat is everything; and is usually the difference between life and death.

From its beginnings, MEF learned that many health educators didn’t realize the vital importance of including information about Melanoma within their curricula. For MEF, the idea is to help teachers inform their students how to find Melanoma quickly, along with the best ways to avoid it entirely.

MEF’s goals are prominently listed on our website, skincheck.org. They are as follows:

  • Educate middle and high school health teachers and provides them with free online classroom lessons for their students.
  • Provide complete information about early self-detection and prevention of Melanoma in a user-friendly website.

 MEF’s popular The Melanoma Lessons are now taught in more than 1,700 schools all over the United States. The single-period lessons focus on early self-detection prevention of melanoma for middle and high school students. They are easy for educators to learn and easy to teach. *

With further regard to our websites; skincheck.org is a comprehensive, powerful, yet easy-to-navigate educational tool for anyone and everyone. While very similar in content, melanomaeducation.net additionally provides health educators with access to student teacher videos and lesson plans.

Both websites are packed with information about Melanoma. Included within them are its causes, prevention techniques, warning signs, statistics, how to check yourself, and much more. You’ll also find numerous relevant photographs and videos.

This blog will serve as an adjunct to our website, and focus more on singular issues each week. The basic facts about Melanoma remain relatively stationary. However, the wheels of medical science are always in motion. As we’ve all seen over the past couple of decades, they’re moving faster now than ever before. And they will move faster still. Using the massive power of social media, our posts will allow us to deliver the news of whatever breakthroughs, upgrades, or even setbacks are on the horizon, to a much larger audience.

We not only welcome you to, but encourage you to share these posts. Our only desire is to see Melanoma swept away forever into the dustbin of history. With your help, there’s no doubt that someday that day will arrive.

Thank you.

*To visit our websites, please click:  skincheck.org and/or melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma