The incidence of skin cancer in Spain has increased by 50% in 20 years, according to data from Redaccion Médica, pointing to a study that indicates that in 2022 alone, there will be about 7,500 cases of skin melanoma, skin The deadliest form of cancer.
According to the aforementioned research prepared by the Spanish Network of Cancer Registries (RADICAN) and the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), the incidence rate will reach 16 cases per 100,000 people.
Although the use of sun protection and annual skin checks are important, self-monitoring of skin changes is one of the most important measures for early detection of melanoma, which accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers, but is the most common form of skin cancer. most of the deaths.
In most cases, the prognosis depends on the patient, notes Alexander Witkowski, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the OHSU School of Medicine, who recently diagnosed the world’s youngest skin cancer.
According to Witkowski, more than half of melanoma cases are detected by the patient himself (or by an acquaintance), who notices changes in the mole.
His wife, Dr. Joanna Ludzik, who collaborated with him on the record search and is also an assistant professor of dermatology at OHSU, recommends self-exams every 3 to 4 months and following the ABCDE method, which includes asymmetry. involves searching for The extent, colour, diameter and growth of a mole.
But melanoma doesn’t always show up in moles; In fact, 70-80% of melanoma cases form on “normal-looking” skin. Sometimes it appears in microscopic areas which may be more unexpected, but are equally dangerous according to doctors.
Business Insider was able to talk to several professionals about the less obvious signs of melanoma and when to see a doctor.
new spots on the soles of the feet or inside of the hands
Although skin with more melanin may filter UV rays more effectively, resulting in lower rates of skin cancer, there are some areas of the body that are at a higher risk of developing melanoma, especially those with darker skin. In people with skin: They are the soles of the feet and the inside of the hands.
Regardless of race or skin tone, Witkowski says that “everyone has the same amount of pigment in these limited areas, so the risk level is very similar” if, for example, the bottom of your feet gets a sunburn.
One of the most famous cases was that of Bob Marley, whose fatal melanoma started as a lesion on his toe.
stripes on fingernails and toenails
According to Witkowski and Ludzik, melanoma is most often associated with asymmetric moles, but it can also present as long, dark streaks under the fingernails and toenails.
For this reason, it is important to always remove nail polish before examining the skin.
sores on the eyelids, lips, or genitals
These experts remember that new skin lesions on the eyelids, lips, and genitals, known as mucosal melanoma, can also be signs of melanoma.
Fortunately, he says, this form of melanoma may be easier to detect, since it usually appears as deeper, more conspicuous lesions.
a colorless mole
A rare form of melanoma is nicknamed “pink melanoma” because it presents as a mole that contains no pigment.
According to Ludzik, it often looks like a small pink or white spot that can grow rapidly, so it’s important to catch it early and get it checked out. A telltale sign is that it may glisten under a light or mirror.
in the eyeball
According to Witkowski, this type of melanoma is very rare and represents less than 1% of all cases. However, in a skin examination, dermatologists must examine the eyes, as melanoma can sometimes form behind the eyeball.
In most of these cases, the patient will first notice changes in vision, eye pressure, or new headaches leading to the diagnosis of melanoma.