World Melanoma Day Dalmation Dog Graphic - EN

World Melanoma Day is recognized on the second Monday of May around the world to highlight the growing prevalence of malignant melanoma. This year the Canadian Dermatology Association has released new public opinion research revealing positive and worrisome trends in Canadians’ attitudes towards sun exposure and sun protection.

Sun safe behaviour survey - statistic

In previous years the CDA has lobbied on Parliament Hill for MPs with other organizations for a ban on tanning bed usage by minors. Currently, every province in Canada (and two out of three territories) prohibits the use of tanning equipment by people under the age of 18 or 19. With this shared success for the safety of Canadians, the CDA continues to advocate for sun safety and skin cancer prevention.

Ban on Tanning Bed Usage by Minors Across Canada

Check Early, Check Often

While people may be unsure how best to check their skin, performing a self-examination using the steps below and the “ABCDEs” is a simple way to remember the key characteristics that could identify a potential case of melanoma:

5 Step Skin Cancer Self-Examination
Self-exam step 1 image

Using a mirror in a well-lit room, check the front of your body – face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.

Self-exam step 2 image

Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.

Self-exam step 3 image

With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.

Self-exam step 4 image

Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.

Self-exam step 5 image

Finally, check your feet – the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.

Look for the ABCDE’s
ABCDE of Melanoma

A- “Asymmetry” – the shape on one side is different from that on the other side

B- “Border” – the border or visible edge is irregular, ragged and imprecise

C- “Colour” – mole colour varies with brown, black, red, grey or white areas within the lesion

D- “Diameter” – growth is typical of melanoma. It can measure more than 6 mm, although it can be less

E- “Evolution” – look for change in colour, size, shape or symptom, such as itching, tenderness or bleeding

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, and more than 90% of melanomas are caused by UV light from the sun. Certified dermatologist Dr. Harvey Lui talks about how to prevent melanoma, and how early detection can help save patients’ lives.

Learn more about Melanoma

Minimize Your Melanoma Risk

Remember to practice the following sun-safe behaviours:

Seek shade between 11:00am to 3:00pm

Wearing protective clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and UV-protective sunglasses

Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30

A Growing Problem

Incidence rates of melanoma have increased in both men and women over the past several decades, growing 2.1% per year in men from 1992 to 2013, and 2.0% per year among women for the same time period.

While increasing incidence rates are a cause for concern, the five-year survival rate of melanoma is second only to thyroid cancer, with females having a 92% survival rate, and males, 85%.

Early detection is key, and everyone should regularly perform a skin evaluation; consider asking your partner to check areas that can be hard to see on your own (back, neck, etc). You should see a certified dermatologist if you spot something suspicious.

The Canadian Dermatology Association supports the use of sunscreen as an effective and safe means to provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays. There is strong scientific evidence of the adverse effects of UV exposure in contrast to the hypothetical negative effects of sunscreen on your health. Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using a broad spectrum sunscreen all help in providing safe sun protection.