Doctor Lawrence Jaeger is an expert Dermatologist and treats patients with all forms of skin infections at Advanced Dermatology Associates in New York.

Causes, prevention, and early detection

Sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation

Recent studies suggest there may be 2 main ways that UV exposure is linked to melanoma, but there is likely some overlap.

The first link is to sun exposure as a child and teenager. People with melanoma often have an early history of sunburns or other intense sun exposures, although not everyone does. This early sun exposure may damage the DNA in skin cells (melanocytes), which starts them on a path to becoming melanoma cells many years later. Some doctors think this might help explain why melanomas often occur on the thighs (in women) and trunk (in men), areas that generally aren’t exposed to the sun as much in adulthood.

The second link is to melanomas that occur on the arms, neck, and face. These areas are chronically exposed to sun, particularly in men.

Tanning booths might help either kind of melanoma to develop.

Researchers are studying if melanomas that develop from these types of UV exposure have different gene changes that might require them to be treated differently.

Public education

Most skin cancers can be prevented. The best way to lower the number of skin cancers and the pain and loss of life from this disease is to educate the public, especially parents, about skin cancer risk factors and warning signs. It’s important for health care professionals and skin cancer survivors to remind everyone about the dangers of too much UV exposure (both from the sun and from man-made sources such as tanning beds) and about how easy it can be to protect your skin from UV rays.

Melanoma can often be found early, when it is most likely to be cured. Monthly skin self-exams and awareness of the warning signs of melanomas may be helpful in finding most melanomas when they are at an early, curable stage.

Most skin cancers can be prevented. The best way to lower the number of skin cancers and the pain and loss of life from this disease is to educate the public, especially parents, about skin cancer risk factors and warning signs. It’s important for health care professionals and skin cancer survivors to remind everyone about the dangers of too much UV exposure (both from the sun and from man-made sources such as tanning beds) and about how easy it can be to protect your skin from UV rays.

Melanoma can often be found early, when it is most likely to be cured. Monthly skin self-exams and awareness of the warning signs of melanomas may be helpful in finding most melanomas when they are at an early, curable stage.