Melanoma is a type of cancer in which cancer cells form in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, which is what gives our skin, hair and eyes their colour. While melanoma starts on the skin, it can spread into other tissues and parts of the body.
Some people are more likely to develop skin cancer than others. Risk factors that can increase your chances of developing it include:
- Having a fair complexion (i.e., fair skin with freckles, blue, green or other light-coloured eyes, red or blond hair)
- Having several large or lots of small moles
- Extended exposure to natural or artificial sunlight over long periods of time
- Frequent sunburns that blistered, especially as a child or teenager
- A family history of skin cancer
The possible symptoms of melanoma include a mole that:
- Is asymmetrical
- Has an irregular border
- Has more than one colour
- Is larger than 6 mm (1/4 inch) in diameter
- Changes is shape, size, colour or feel
- Itches, oozes, bleeds or tingles
How common is melanoma?
If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, you’re not alone. In 2017, approximately 7,200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma.
If you would like more information about melanoma, speak with your doctor.