Melanoma is that big bad word that no one wants to talk about but everyone needs to be educated on. Although it is the rarest form of skin cancer, it’s the most deadly, and therefore we need to know the facts!

As a skin care specialist it is your responsibility to be educated enough to catch something that looks strange or suspicious and refer to the appropriate specialist. You will most likely have more opportunities to see your client’s skin throughout the year then their dermatologist will. You need to be properly equiped to handle changes in your clients skin and know the difference in the new “spots” that can appear. Here are the scary facts.

• 76,250 new cases of invasive melanoma and 55,560 new cases of non-invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2012
• 44,250 cases of invasive melanoma will occur in males.
• 32,000 cases of invasive melanoma will occur in females.
• About 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide each year.
• According to the World Health Organization Report, about 48,000 melanoma-related deaths occur worldwide each year.
• 10 times more common in Caucasians than in African-Americans. It is slightly more common in males than in females.
• 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of melanoma.
• 6,060 males and 3,120 females are expected to die of melanoma during 2012.
• 91% and 90% is the survival rate for people with all stages of melanoma to live without the disease for at least 5 or 10 years
• The incidence of people under 30 developing melanoma is increasing faster than any other demographic group, increasing by 50 percent in young women since 1980.
• Melanoma primarily affects individuals in the prime years of life, is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
• One-in-50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma

Early detection is easy as ABC!

Asymmetry: Compare one half of the growth to the other half. Are they equal? If not then it is suspicious!

Border: if the border is irregular, notched, scalloped, or indistinct it is suspicious!

Color:  Different colors throughout the growth make it suspicious. I.E. dark to light brown or blacks and blues.

As an Aesthetician you cannot diagnose but you can however detect something “suspicious” and refer to the appropriate Physician. Never scare your client! If you start speculating and they find nothing wrong, you will lose their trust and confidence! If you see something that you’re not sure about, make the client aware of it and recommend that they have it checked. You should have a small list of Physicians you refer to handy at all times. If you are a Laser tech it is your responsibility to have your client get all suspicious spots checked before treating them! You do not want to take the color out of something that might need looked at! At the end of the day your client will not only appreciate you having their best interest at heart, they will trust more in your ability to care for their skin.