Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where Was Your Melanoma?

According to the Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF), melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, even in places never exposed to the sun.  In White males, the most common location is on the back.  For White women, the back of the lower legs is most common.  For darker toned folks such as Hispanic, Asians, and African-Americans, the most common location is the feet or hands.  See the chart below from the MEF website:

Courtesy of MEF

 A few days ago, I posed the following question on Facebook and Twitter.  “Where did your melanoma first appear?”  I received over 100 responses with answers as varied as the people that responded.  Some answers were very specific (“on my neck just below the right ear”) and others were very general (“on my back”).  I categorized the responses the same as listed in the MEF chart except that I didn’t split by sex.  The result of my informal survey:

Head & Neck

Keep in mind that melanoma can indeed appear anywhere.  Some of the more specific answers included “bottom of my foot,” “eyeball,” “thumbnail,” “right breast,” “buttocks,” and “scalp.”  This proves that you should check every inch of your body for any suspicious spots.  Every.  Place.  Including the genitals.  Guys, check around your penis (as if you don’t already) included beneath the scrotum.  Gals, check your vaginal area.  If you don’t listen to me, listen to my friend Timna at “Respect the Rays” who is always sending this reminder!

It’s advised to perform a self-check at least once a month.  Melanoma Exposed recommends a three-step method:

1.       Look in the mirror.  Use a mirror to examine your head, scalp, face, neck, chest and torso (women should check under their breasts).  Then check your hands, nails, elbows, arms and underarms.

2.       Sit Down.  Take a seat and check your legs and feet, including the soles, heels and nails.  Use a hand mirror to check your genitals.

3.       Stand.  Use a hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, back, buttocks, and legs.

Better yet, get a partner to check with you! 

See a dermatologist at least once a year…preferably one that specializes in skin cancer and melanoma.  The Melanoma Research Foundation offers a Metastatic Melanoma Treatment Center finder by region on their website.  Other organizations offer similar services.

Melanoma can start anywhere.  But with a constant monitoring of our own skin, it can be detected and stopped with great success.  Early detection is the key!  Please check today!


  1. This is such a great topic. I get this question all the time. Mine was on my right breast (who else said that??)--somewhere that never sees sun except when I burnt it in tanning booths. I had never idea all the random places melanoma could pop up until I had it and started learning more about it. In your mouth, even.. who would have thought?

  2. Yes, I learn so much from your blog.

  3. Gread read! Mine was on my left upper arm/shoulder area!