Information About Melanoma

Melanoma Home Detection Understanding Melanoma


Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer. Each year, more than 35,000 new cases are diagnosed, and the number is rising steadily. If you or someone you love has melanoma, Cancer Care can help you.

Studies have shown that support and information play a critical role in helping people with melanoma cope with their fears, deal with treatment, and improve their quality of life. It is Cancer Care's mission to provide that support and information to cancer patients and their families.

Malignant melanoma is the most life-threatening form of skin cancer, with 40,300 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 1997. Although malignant melanoma accounts for only 5% of reported skin cancer cases, it causes over 75% of skin-cancer-related deaths. By the year 2000, an American's lifetime risk of developing melanoma will be one in 75. Over the past two decades, the incidence of malignant melanoma in Caucasians increased at a faster rate than that of any other cancer, with the number of cases doubling. more

What is the Melanoma Initiative?
The Cancer Research Institute and Cancer Care, Inc. announced a joint collaboration, 'The Melanoma Initiative,' aimed at enhancing public awareness and developing a comprehensive program of melanoma research and healthcare support services related to this life-threatening skin cancer. more

What type of help is out there?
Crossing Bridges is a voluntary therapy compliance program available to patients receiving INTRON® A (Interferon alfa-2b recombinant) for Injection as adjuvant therapy for malignant melanoma.

What is Melanoma?

The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma begins in a type of skin cell called a melanocyte. Melanocytes produce the skin pigment known as melanin, which is responsible for our natural skin color. When exposed to sunlight, these skin cells produce large amounts of melanin as part of the "tanning process," that helps protect the skin from burning.

Pigmented markings of the skin are known as moles, which are groups of melanocytes in the skin. While moles are generally harmless, they can become cancerous.

A Problem On The Rise

Although melanoma accounts for only about 5% of all skin cancer cases, it is the leading cause of all skin cancer-related deaths. In the United States, the rise in the number of people with melanoma is second only to lung cancer in women. The chart below shows how the lifetime risk of developing melanoma has risen--and continues to rise.

Who Is At Risk

The main cause of melanoma is thought to be the sun, through exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. People with fair skin and who tend to sunburn easily--especially those with red or blond hair--may be at greatest risk because their skin cells have less melanin.

Reducing Your Risk

Since melanoma is caused by the sun, it makes sense that people should try to avoid or protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays. This is especially important between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm, when the sun's rays are the strongest. Protect yourself by wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Whenever you are outdoors for an extended period, use a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher on all exposed skin--even in the winter--and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Protect Your Children

Special sunscreens are available for babies and children under 6 years of age. Infants, children, and teens who do get sunburned may not see the long-term damaging effects for many years. But recent studies suggest that one or more early blistering sunburns during childhood can be a major contributor to developing melanoma later in life.