Published on September 12, 2023

The Danger Of Melanoma

Australians love the sun, and we get plenty of it! It’s great in moderation, even healthy for us as exposure to sunlight enables the body to make vitamin D from cholesterol in our skin cells. But, too much sun is another thing altogether, and can cause serious damage to those skin cells resulting in a very dangerous condition, a skin cancer called melanoma. Melanoma is one of the ten most common cancers found in both men and women in Australia, which along with New Zealand, suffer from the highest rates of melanoma in the world! This is very likely related to the high proportion of the population who have fair skin and receive regular exposure to the sun from early childhood on.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, it develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives our skin its colour. Melanoma can even form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat! Of course, it’s best to avoid too much sun but sometimes our play, or even our work, requires us to experience some exposure. If you are someone who spends a lot of time in the sun it’s important to get regular Molemap skin checks to make sure your skin is healthy and cancer-free and to discover any problems early so that proper treatment can begin before the condition becomes a health hazard.

The exact cause of all melanomas isn’t quite clear, but it is certain that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from direct sunlight or from tanning lamps and beds greatly increases the risk of developing melanoma. Limiting exposure to UV radiation can help reduce the risk of contracting melanoma. Maintaining a sensible skincare routine that includes moisturizing and sunscreens can also help stave off the advent of skin cancer. Recent research shows that the risk of melanoma is increasing in people under age 40, especially women.

The reasons are as yet undetermined but are suspected to be related to more young people spending time out in the sun than in the past thanks to the increasing popularity of outdoor sports and fitness. Being aware of the warning signs of skin cancer helps us ensure that cancerous changes are detected and treated before the cancer has a chance to spread. Melanoma can be treated successfully when it is detected early. 

Melanomas can develop anywhere on the body, but they most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as the back, legs, arms and face. Melanomas can also occur in areas that don’t receive much sun exposure, like the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are most commonly found in people with darker skin. Have moles and any unusual-looking skin growths checked out quickly!

For more information on melanoma visit the Australian Government’s Cancer website. Be sure to enjoy the sun wisely, and stay safe from its dangers!


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