DNA Strand

Timothy Aycock Melanoma Research Foundation

Through advocacy, outreach and fundraising activities, our mission is to battle against melanoma by increasing awareness and contributing towards cutting-edge medical research and clinical trials with the goal of helping to find a cure one day for this disease.

 

Melanoma Facts & Statistics

Provided by Mayo Clinic  (1)

OVERVIEW

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.

Ocular melanoma, or melanoma of the eye, is the most common primary eye cancer in adults and the second most common type of melanoma, with around 2,000 new cases each year. Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, can occur in any of the three layers of the uvea: the choroid, the ciliary body or the iris.

Timothy Aycock had ocular melanoma, which is a particularly dangerous form of melanoma and accounts for approximately 5% of all melanoma cases. The disease will spread from the eye to other organs in approximately half of people with ocular melanoma. TAMRF partners with CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education of Ocular Melanoma) to increase awareness, education, and research funding for ocular melanoma


The exact cause of all melanomas isn't clear, but exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. Limiting your exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.

SYMPTOMS 

Melanomas can develop anywhere on your body and most often appear in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms and face. Melanomas can also occur in areas that don't receive much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin.

The first melanoma signs and symptoms often are:

  • A change in an existing mole

  • The development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin

  • Melanoma doesn't always begin as a mole. It can also occur on otherwise normal-appearing skin.

Unusual moles that may indicate melanoma

To help you identify characteristics of unusual moles that may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers, think of the letters ABCDE:

  • A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.

  • B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.

  • C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.

  • D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters).

  • E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.


Cancerous (malignant) moles vary greatly in appearance. Some may show all of the changes listed above, while others may have only one or two unusual characteristics.

RISK FACTORS 

Factors that may increase your risk of melanoma include:

  • Fair skin. Having less pigment (melanin) in your skin means you have less protection from damaging UV radiation. If you have blond or red hair, light-colored eyes, and freckle or sunburn easily, you're more likely to develop melanoma than is someone with a darker complexion. But melanoma can develop in people with darker complexions, including Hispanic people and black people.

  • A history of sunburn. One or more severe, blistering sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma.

  • Excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Exposure to UV radiation, which comes from the sun and from tanning lights and beds, can increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

  • Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation. People living closer to the earth's equator, where the sun's rays are more direct, experience higher amounts of UV radiation than do those living farther north or south. In addition, if you live at a high elevation, you're exposed to more UV radiation.

  • Having many moles or unusual moles. Having more than 50 ordinary moles on your body indicates an increased risk of melanoma. Also, having an unusual type of mole increases the risk of melanoma. Known medically as dysplastic nevi, these tend to be larger than normal moles and have irregular borders and a mixture of colors.

  • A family history of melanoma. If a close relative — such as a parent, child or sibling — has had melanoma, you have a greater chance of developing a melanoma, too.

  • Weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your immune system may be impaired if you take medicine to suppress the immune system, such as after an organ transplant, or if you have a disease that impairs the immune system, such as AIDS.

PREVENTION 

To reduce your risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer:

  • Avoid the sun during the middle of the day. For many people in North America, the sun's rays are strongest between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. even when cloudy.

  • Wear sunscreen year-round. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.

  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or visor.

    Some companies also sell protective clothing. A dermatologist can recommend an appropriate brand. Don't forget sunglasses. Look for those that block both types of UV radiation — UVA and UVB rays.

  • Avoid tanning lamps and beds. Tanning lamps and beds emit UV rays and can increase your risk of skin cancer.

  • Become familiar with your skin so that you'll notice changes. Examine your skin often for new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears and scalp.

    Examine your chest and trunk and the tops and undersides of your arms and hands. Examine both the front and back of your legs and your feet, including the soles and the spaces between your toes. Also check your genital area and between your buttocks.

(1) Mayo Clinic. Melanoma. Patient care and health information. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/melanoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20374884