Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. In Canada, an estimated 6,800 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and over 1000 of them die of it.
It's important to know that melanoma only has its most serious consequences if it goes undiagnosed. It's fairly easy to recognize and is highly treatable if caught early.
Some risk factors for developing melanoma include:
- excessive exposure to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- history of blistering burns (especially during childhood)
- presence of atypical moles
- having a large number of moles (i.e., more than 50 moles)
- light skin complexion (often blond or red hair with green, blue, or grey eyes)
- skin that tends to freckle or burn easily rather than tan
- personal or family history of skin cancer
- a weakened immune system
- taking medications that increase the skin's sensitivity to UV light
- having had childhood cancer with radiation treatment and immunosuppression (less common)