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Intermountain Health Cancer Experts Give Tips to Reduce The Risk of Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers

As Summer Approaches, Here are Steps You Can Take to Reduce You and Your Family’s Risk of Developing Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers from Intermountain Health Cancer Experts

(PRUnderground) May 15th, 2024

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and while it is the least common it is estimated that melanoma will affect 1 in 27 men and 1 in 40 women in their lifetime. With over five million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer.

Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. By sharing facts about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and encouraging people to check their skin for warning signs, cancer experts from Intermountain Health are working to raise awareness in the community that they hope will save lives.

“As we head into the summer months, May is a great time for us to speak out about the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma and to share facts about sun protection, skin cancer prevention, and the importance of early detection to help save lives,” said Tawnya Bowles, MD, a cancer surgeon at Intermountain Health who specialize in melanoma and skin cancer care.

As part of “Melanoma May” and Skin Cancer Awareness in May, Dr. Bowles and other cancer experts from Intermountain Health want the public to know the facts about melanoma and skin cancer prevention.

There are many factors contributing to melanoma, including high altitude, fair skin, significant sun exposure, tanning beds, and genetics. Melanoma masses are commonly associated with moles, as they resemble a mole or may even arise from an existing mole. They are generally dark brown or black in color, though occasionally may be white, pink, or even blue or purple.

“The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from sun damage,” said Dr. Bowles. “With summer upon is, it’s especially important to be vigilant about sun protection.”

Facts about Melanoma

  • Melanoma is one of the most aggressive kinds of cancer. One person dies of Melanoma every hour.
  • Melanoma can be hidden in plain sight. Melanoma screenings can help detect cancer at an early stage.
  • You are at risk to get melanoma if you have any of the following risk factors:
    • Living at a high elevation
    • Both men and Women over 50 years old
    • Spending time outside in the sun
    • A family history of skin cancer
    • Frequent use of tanning beds
    • Having lighter skin
  • You can still get melanoma with no known risk factors

The skin cancer category includes melanoma, basal cell skin cancer, and squamous cell skin cancer. Skin cancer other than melanoma is a very common cancer in the United States. More than 5 million people receive such a diagnosis each year. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are nonmelanoma skin cancers, are the most common types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma, however, is an aggressive form of skin cancer. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than the more common forms of skin cancer.

According to estimates made from the National Cancer Institute, 100,640 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma and about 8,290 people will die of the disease in 2024.

Melanoma is more common in men than women and among individuals of fair complexion. Unusual moles, exposure to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time, and health history can affect the risk of melanoma.

In addition to the skin, melanoma may also occur in mucous membranes – thin, moist layers of tissue that cover surfaces such as the lips – or in the eye, which is called ocular or uveal melanoma.


You can take an active role in protecting your skin and preventing skin cancer. First, when possible, try to stay in the shade during peak sun hours from 10 am to 4 pm. When you are in the sun, reapply sunscreen regularly throughout the day, especially if you will be in water where it can wash off.

In some cases, you may want to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and protective accessories like hats and sunglasses to block UVA and UVB rays. Also, avoid indoor tanning as it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Your Skin Tells Your Story

You should see your doctor if you notice an irritated or unnatural-looking skin growth. You should also make an appointment to show your doctor any skin growths that concern you so that they can be observed and treated.

If you have a family history of skin cancer, or any risk factors that are common to skin cancer, you should also think about having your doctor perform a yearly skin check as part of your routine physical. This is where your doctor will check your skin for new growths, and observe existing growths, such as moles or freckles, to make sure they are not changing.

Treatment Options

Intermountain Health has a multidisciplinary team of dermatologists, surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists, and dermatopathologists provide specialized treatment for melanoma and other skin cancers including advanced basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, Merkel cell carcinoma, and other rare tumors of the skin, to help patients.

Intermountain fellowship-trained surgical oncologists have expertise in resection of primary tumors occurring anywhere on the skin, sentinel lymph node biopsy, and lymph node dissections, working closely with plastic surgery colleagues when reconstruction is needed.

The first step in skin cancer treatment is the removal of the cancer, and the standard method of doing this is by excisional surgery. Excisional surgery involves a physician using a scalpel to remove the entire skin tumor, along with a surrounding border of seemingly normal skin.

Mohs micrographic surgery is appropriate treatment for some skin cancers. Mohs surgery is performed by specialty-trained dermatologists using a scalpel or curette (sharp, ring-shaped instrument) to remove one thin layer of tissue at a time. As each layer is removed, the edges are studied under the microscope for the presence of cancer cells. If the margins are cancer-free, the surgery is ended. If not, more tissue is removed, and this procedure is repeated until the margins of the final tissue examined are clear of cancer.

Melanoma, especially as it grows deeper into the skin, can spread to nearby lymph nodes. A technique called sentinel lymph node biopsy allows for early recognition of melanoma in the lymph nodes, when the tumor is too small to be seen by the naked eye or felt on physical examination. If melanoma is found in a sentinel lymph node biopsy, removal of the remaining lymph nodes at that site is recommended.

For more information about screenings with an expert at Intermountain Health, click here.

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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