“monitor them much more carefully for the development of melanoma. However, patients with certain genetic diseases, such as xeroderma pigmentosum–a rare disease in which patients cannot repair ultraviolet-damaged DNA–are at increased risk. The DNA within the melanocytes becomes damaged and may develop into melanoma.” (SerVaas, 2013)
Melanoma is the most potent type of skin cancer with high incidence of death caused by it. The risk factors that cause melanoma are the same as for any variant of skin cancer. Besides, there also appears to be a genetic component that predicts likelihood of occurrence. While light-skin increases the chance of incidence, dark-skinned people can also acquire the cancer. Melanomas arise “in melanocytes, the melanin-containing cells of the epidermal layer of the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin colour and that helps to protect the skin from sun damage. In light-skinned people, melanomas appear most frequently on the trunk in men and on the arms or legs in women. In blacks melanomas appear most frequently on the hands and feet.” (“Skin cancer,” 2014)
Over the years, the instances of melanoma have steadily increased. So much so that, various national governments have launched public-health campaigns. In the United States, for example, more than a million people are diagnosed with skin cancer annually. Of these, 50,000 are diagnosed with melanoma, the most virulent variety of skin cancer. But if we were to take necessary precautions, the risk could be substantially reduced. The ingeniously named ‘slip-slap-slop principle’ seems to work very well. Public health professionals urge the general public to “slip on a shirt, slap on a wide-brimmed hat, and slop on some sunscreen.” (Durkee, 2006)
There are some point to keep in mind while selecting the clothing as well. A particular attention needs to be given to the weaving of the cloth. While tightly woven material prevents UV rays from reaching the skin, a light weave does not prevent exposure. Even then, there are certain parts of the body which are more vulnerable than others for melanoma. So knowledge of the history of anatomical affliction of the cancer and recorded statistics are of help. As a noted dermatologist observes, “ultraviolet light can get through the hair, depending upon the thickness of the hair…the sun could penetrate the hair and damage the scalp. Hair is there for a reason–to protect the skin. Some of the worst skin cancer problems have been in men with hereditary baldness who received a great deal of sun exposure to the scalp.” (SerVaas, 2013)
But one must not over-do prevention efforts, for an optimal exposure to sunlight helps the body build Vitamin D and Vitamin A. So, one has to make a distinction between harmful and benevolent sun rays. It is commonly advised by doctors to avoid exposure during noon. The period between 11 and 4 is when the heat and UV radiation are at their most potent. The sunlight during dawn and dusk is by and large safe. One also has to consider the geographic latitude and longitude of a particular locality. Prevention methods also include a regular check-up with a physician. People can also check themselves by scrutinizing their naked bodies in front of a well lit mirror. This is also one of the recommendations by the Skin Cancer Foundation.