I spend my entire day as dermatologist on the lookout for malignant melanoma. It is one of the more aggressive cancers and it typically presents as a mole that has changed, or as a newly- growing irregular lesion. You may be surprised to know that the peak chance of having it is when you are between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. It can show up virtually anywhere on your body, but women tend to get it more on their legs while men see it more on their backs. Do yourselves a favor and check each other’s entire skin. Make it fun and get to know what your normal moles and spots look like — that way if you ever see a change or something new, believe me, that is the one to worry about.
The problem with malignant melanoma is that if it grows for too long on the skin it can spread, or metastasize, and travel elsewhere in your body and grow as a tumor. It is literally the third cause of death behind car accidents and gun shots for ages 20 to 40 years old.
When in doubt, show any unusual spots on your skin to your doctor or see a dermatologist. In fact, telemedicine has made connections with the dermatologist easy! If you don’t have time for a traditional doctor’s visit try our online service, InTeleDerm.com. We can look at a good picture of any suspicious lesion and tell you if you should be seen in person for a possible biopsy. When melanoma is detected and treated in its early stages, the chances for long-term, disease-free survival are excellent.