Skin Cancer: Frequently Asked Questions You Should Know

What is Melanoma?

One of the most common forms of cancer especially among young adults, Melanoma is a life-threatening disease. Melanocytes are cells found in the last layer of the epidermis are responsible for producing melanin, which is responsible for skin pigmentation. That’s why Melanoma is often visible as dark brown or black moles. Melanoma spreads rapidly to the internal organs and the lymph system.

Is Melanoma hereditary?

Yes. Often, a result of overexposure to the sun during early childhood, Melanoma also runs in families.

What are the symptoms of Melanoma?

Melanoma is diagnosed via a biopsy. However, it is highly advised to watch out for any changes in your skin like:

  • Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body.
  • Dark lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fingertips toes, mouth, nose or genitalia.
  • Translucent pearly and dome-shaped growths.
  • Existing moles that begin to grow, itch or bleed.
  • Brown or black streaks under the nails.
  • A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens.
  • Clusters of slow-growing scaly lesions that are pink or red.

What should I watch out for on my skin?

To help you assess whether a mole or lesion is cancerous, the American Academy of Dermatology has developed the following handy ABCDE guide:

  • Asymmetry: A half mole does not match the other half in size, shape or colour.
  • Border: The edges of moles are irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
  • Colour: The mole is not the same colour throughout.
  • Diameter: The mole is usually greater than 6 millimetres when diagnosed, but may also be smaller.
  • Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that is different from the rest, or changes in size, shape, or colour.

If any of these conditions occur, please book an appointment to see one of our dermatologists immediately. We may conduct a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is cancerous or not.

Can Melanoma be treated?

Yes. Melanoma if detected and treated early can be curable. Treatments include surgical removal, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. However, when it comes to Melanoma, prevention is better than cure:

  • Stay out of the sun when the sun is the strongest.
  • Cover up the arms and legs with protective clothing.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Use sunscreens year-round with an SPF of 15 or greater and sunblock’s that work on both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Check your skin monthly and contact one of our dermatologists if you notice any changes.
  • Get regular skin examinations. It is advised that adults over 40 get an annual exam with a dermatologist.

In fact, if you are feeling anxious about any sign on your skin, feel free to contact any of the dermatologists at the Derma One centre in Manama, Bahrain, even if it is just for your peace of mind.