Redheads and Melanoma

It’s very important for all of us to remember that UV rays, from minor sun skin damage all the way up to the potentially fatal melanoma, can impact any human being regardless of his or her race. However, due to the nature of melanoma, there are some groups of people who are more susceptible to this awful disease than others are. This blog post will focus on one of those groups.

Redheads at Risk

While melanoma is certainly an equal opportunity menace, it can and does play favorites. Unfortunately, people who have natural red hair are one group of them.

The odds that a redheaded individual will contract melanoma is far greater than it is for people without pale skin tones, or who have darker-complexions. The reason for this may be the varying levels of two distinct types of melanin pigment present within each group.

At issue is that the amount of red pheomelanin within redheads far exceeds the amount of black eumelanin they possess. The latter is “photoprotective” and “tends to absorb UV radiation and provides minor protection of the skin from UV damage”, while the former is “phototoxic”, and “when it absorbs UV radiation it releases cancer-promoting substances known to cause DNA mutationsthe release of these cancer-promoting molecules was found to continue for two to three hours after UV exposure had stopped.*

Preventing Ginger Ail

What all the medical jargon boils down to is that redheads need to be particularly thorough when practicing their sun-safety techniques. Also, they must be extremely attentive during their monthly skin self-examinations. Any new odd-looking moles or blemishes, or any changes to existing ones, should be called to the attention of a dermatologist as quickly as is possible.

Finally, just because it’s so vital to reinforce this fact, we’d like to remind you that none of us is off the hook. Regular skin self-exams are crucial for everyone to perform; regardless of race, gender or skin tone.

It’s just that redheads need to be extra careful.

*Additional information source citation: Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) newsletter (Spring 2015)

To visit our websites, please click: Skincheck.org and/or Melanomaeducation.net

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

Acral Lentiginous Melanoma

One of the most important tasks we face in helping to spread melanoma awareness and education, is to relieve people of the notion that the disease only impacts Caucasians and other pale-toned ethnicities. That’s simply not true. Melanoma is a color-blind, unbiased menace to people of all ethnic backgrounds. With that in mind, the focus of today’s topic will be Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM).

ALM is a symptom-free branch of melanoma that is most common in blacks, Hispanics and Asians; but also affects whites and other light-skinned races. (Two related forms of ALM are Subungual Melanoma and Mucosal Melanoma. The former develops underneath finger and toenails, while the latter presents on mucous membranes). Interestingly, unlike most other melanomas, the onset of ALM is not connected to exposure to the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays.

Where does Acral Lentiginous Melanoma Develop?

ALM originates mostly on the palms of our hands, the soles of our feet or, as mentioned earlier, beneath our nails. In words, its appearance is best described by the following direct quote from the Cleveland Clinic’s cited source article linked below:

Clinically, the lesion is characterized by a tan, brown-to-black, flat macule with color variegation and irregular borders.”

To literally illustrate that statement, please view these photos of ALM and Mucosal Melanoma :

 

 

 

 

Please note that “Fingernail/Toenail Melanoma” is often mistaken for a minor injury; such as what may occur while participating in athletics, or accidentally hitting your thumb with a hammer. It may also be mistaken for a nail fungus. None of these marks should be disregarded; particularly if you don’t recall incurring an injury or fungus.

One vital thing that ALM does have in common with the more typical melanomas is that it, too, can be easily cured if it’s caught soon enough. If it’s allowed to remain untreated, it will eventually turn fatal.

So please remember, when performing your monthly skin cancer self-examination, be sure to check the bottoms of your feet. As well as between all fingers and toes.

*Additional source articles: Clevelandclinicmeded.com, MSNewsNow.com

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

Facebook: Melanoma Education Foundation

Twitter: @FindMelanoma

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