Melanoma

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, are a melanoma survivor, or are caring for someone with the disease, it’s important to get the facts and to keep moving forward with hope and determination.

Melanoma is the most dangerous and common form of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, there will be 8,420 fatalities in the U.S., 5,400 in men and 3,020 in women. The number of new cases of invasive melanoma is estimated at 62,480; of these, 34,950 will be in men and 27,350 in women.  However, melanoma is nearly 100% curable, especially when detected early.

In this section, you can learn about how melanoma develops and what factors can increase the risk for getting melanoma. You can also learn more about signs and symptoms of melanoma.

More detailed information about melanoma can be found here from the National Cancer Institute.

Melanoma Staging

Understanding melanoma cancer staging is very important in creating your treatment plan and understanding your possible outcomes. It also helps you figure out whether or not you can be a part of clinical trials.
Learn more here about how melanoma cancer is staged.

Treatment Information

Treatment for melanoma and skin cancer varies depending on type of cancer and the stage of cancer.  Common treatments include:

Screening and Prevention

Early detection is your best defense against melanoma.  All us have moles, some more than others, but knowing when a mole has changed or seems different than the rest is key to early detection.

If you have melanoma, early diagnosis can improve your chances for successful treatment. Screening often includes:

  • Dermatologist: Every year try to visit a dermatologist or physician who will look over your entire body and keep track of any moles that may be of concern.
  • Self-examination: Checking out your own body on a monthly basis is a great way to keep track of skin changes.  use a body map to keep track.

Prevention for melanoma means:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Prevention: How can I reduce my risk of cancer?

Making healthy choices can go a long way in helping you to live a healthier life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get screened. Early detection is part of prevention. Talk to your doctor about what screening tests you should get as part of your regular care.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health. Need help quitting? Call the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230 .
  • Be safe in the sun. Use sunscreen, and cover up when you’re in the sun. Stay in the shade when the sun is at it’s brightest – between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink less. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
  • Know your family history for cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting genetic testing if you think you are at risk.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Know your risk factors
Want to learn more about how you can make healthier choices? Contact the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center for tips and information.

Resources

American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society has information to help you stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back.

Aim At Melanoma Foundation
Everything you need to know about melanoma.

The Skin Care Foundation 
The Skin Cancer Foundation is dedicated to reducing the incidence of skin cancer through a combination of research, public education and awareness

Melanoma Foundation of New England
Organization that provides a variety of educational programs targeting the prevention and early detection of skin cancer and melanoma for both children and adults.

Maine Cancer Foundation
Raises money to support cancer research and education in Maine.

Maine Cancer Consortium
Maine’s statewide cancer prevention, detection, and care partnership.

Cancer Community Center
A comfortable, friendly place offering free classes, activities and support for adults whose lives have been touched by cancer. A patient need not be present to attend.

Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center
Providing education and support for cancer patients and their families by offering free programs in a warm and welcoming environment in Eastern Maine.

More Information

Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment
Melanoma Treatment
Skin Cancer Treatment