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May is Melanoma Awareness Month

Iowa residents suffering from melanoma may not know that May has been designated as Melanoma Awareness Month. During the month, experts hope to raise awareness about this dangerous form of skin cancer by promoting early detection and prevention of the disease.

According to data from the American Cancer Society, while melanoma accounts for just 1 percent of all skin cancers, it can be fatal. It comes from sunburns that produce blisters during childhood and in those who are consistently exposed to the sun without wearing some form of burn protection. Those who are at the greatest risk for developing melanoma are women in their 20s and 30s, but it also increases as a person ages. For young women, however, melanoma is the most common form of cancer. A dermatology professor noted that melanoma's cure rate is 94 to 100 percent when it is detected in its early stages. Left undetected, however, the cancer can grow and spread to the point that the survival rate drops to 20 percent.

Melanoma is commonly present on women's legs and men's backs, as well as on non-sun exposed places of the body, including in the eye or scalp, or on the bottom of the feet. Those who are most at risk are people who have a family history of the disease, or who have light-colored skin. To prevent melanoma, the professor advises that people use a thick layer of strong sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoors and then reapply it every few hours.

A failure to diagnose melanoma in its early stages can often result in a worsened medical condition. Patients who have been harmed in such a manner might want to discuss their situation with a medical malpractice attorney.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Expert spotlights early detection for melanoma awareness month", May 1, 2017

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