Melanoma Monday raises awareness for deadliest form of skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the deadliest form of the disease. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and the first Monday in May has been designated as Melanoma Monday by the American Academy of Dermatology.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to remind people that sun protection is needed every single day.  This is not a green light to get started, but this is a full year job,” said Dr. Adam Friedman of Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Melanoma is the No. 1 skin cancer in women ages 25 to 29.

While people think skin cancer is the result of chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, recent research shows it’s becoming more prevalent among a much younger group. In fact, recent literature has identified that children are suffering from the cancer.

“This misperception that if you're a kid there's no way you can have skin cancer, whether it be non-melanoma or melanoma skin cancer, is very misleading,” Friedman said.

Plus, while skin cancer is more prevalent in fair-skinned people, Friedman noted that the disease doesn’t discriminate.

"Anyone can get skin cancer. Skin cancer does not care what color your skin is, what political affiliation you have, what religion you are,” he said.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to use plenty of protection when exposed to the sun, and to visit the doctor’s office if moles change color or shape.

New treatment developments hold promise for turning a death sentence to many years of life, Friedman added.

“The truth is, we are living during a very exciting time of research and development. It is the age of personalized medicines, new diagnostics usually used to identify these cancers and ways to treat them have emerged in the last ten years,” he said.