June 21, 2018

5 Strange Places You Can Get Melanoma

See where the deadliest skin cancer can develop

Think melanoma strikes only the typical sun-exposed areas of your skin? This deadly cancer can surface in surprising places, says dermatologist Christine Poblete-Lopez, MD:


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<p><a href="https://pages.clevelandclinic.org/melanoma-guide-index.html?lid=hh">Melanoma</a> arises from melanocytes (cells that give us pigment). They are everywhere you’ve got skin. So, although it’s rare, melanoma can develop in your belly button, armpits and groin.</p>


<p>Yes, you also have melanocytes in your <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/should-i-be-worried-about-that-red-line-on-my-nail/">nail beds</a>, feet and hands. Melanomas in these areas are more aggressive, likely due to a delay in diagnosis. They are more common among Asians and African-Americans.</p>


<p>Melanocytes also inhabit the colored iris of your eye, and you can develop melanoma there. When anyone develops melanoma, routine eye checks are as vital as skin checks.</p>


<p>It’s rare, but melanomas can develop in your body’s mucous membranes. These line your mouth, throat, genitalia, urinary tract, anus and rectum.</p>


<p>A full head of hair helps protect your scalp from the sun. But once <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-your-hair-protect-your-scalp-from-skin-cancer/">hair starts to thin</a>, melanoma can develop there, especially on the crown of the head.</p>

Scalp Melanoma

<p>You can’t blame melanoma entirely on the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Genetics also play a role. Multiple sunburns and exposure to <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/indoor-tanning-particularly-dangerous-young-people/">tanning beds</a> also increase your risk.</p>

Tanning Bed - open and lights switched on

<p>Apply <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sunscreen-smarts/">sunscreen</a> daily, just like you brush your teeth. Reapply it when going outdoors. For full protection, you should also wear sun-protective clothing, seek shade, and avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (You can get vitamin D from supplements.)</p>

Applying sunscreen to arm

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