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Are You at Risk of Melanoma? (Skin Cancer)
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Are You at Risk of Melanoma?

Jason K Rivers, BSc, FRCPC

Summer is generally a time of increased physical activity, and most of us look forward to gardening, hiking, swimming, or simply sun tanning. Unfortunately, we are now aware that too much of a good thing can be harmful, especially when the subject is about sun exposure. Excessive sun exposure can not only burn the skin and speed up the aging of our skin, but become the cause of more serious problems such as melanoma.

Facts about melanoma:

Most of us have heard of melanoma, but you may not be aware of the essential facts about melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and can prove fatal if it is not detected in its early stages. Melanoma can occur anywhere, but generally occur on already sun damaged areas. Men usually find them on their back, while women find them on the legs, however, it can occur anywhere so properly checking yourself on a regular basis is very important. It could save your life. For more information about melanoma, visit
The Canadian Cancer Society has announced that melanoma rates are increasing while other forms of skin cancer are on the decline. Since 1988, there has been a 41% increase in death rate for men, and a 23% increase for women. An expected 3900 are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma, and 840 of these would be fatal. These are some sobering statistics, but with proper education and self-examination, you can greatly reduce the risk of getting melanoma, and help yourself in identifying them at an earlier stage.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of melanoma
  • Excessive exposure to the sun during childhood. Experiences with blisters or sunburns before the age of 18.
  • Fair skin color that burns or blisters easily
  • Blond or red hair
  • A large amount of moles. 50 or more if you are under 20, and 100 or more for those above 20 are warning signs.

Proper protection and cover from the sun’s UV rays is by far the best form of prevention. Simple steps include staying indoor between 11AM and 3PM when the sun is at its peak, and regular use of sunscreen with a minimum of 15SPF, higher if you are at a high risk of melanoma. Sunglasses with proper UVA ad UVB protections can filter most of the sun’s harmful rays.


melanoma,   skin cancer,