As New Yorkers begin to spend more time outdoors as the weather gets warmer, they should keep in mind that May is Melanoma Awareness Month. They should know the potential risks of sunburns and exposure to the sun.

Melanoma is the most frequently occurring cancer for women in their 20s and 30s and can increase in risk as people age. It can be the result of sunburns that occur in childhood as well as routine, unprotected sun exposure. The disease makes up only 1 percent of skin cancers, but according to the American Cancer Society, it is responsible for a significant portion of deaths related to skin cancer.

The cure rate for melanoma that has been detected early is 94 to 100 percent. The survival rate for the cancer falls to 20 percent if it metastasizes and moves to other parts of the body.Signs of melanoma are most likely to be present on the legs of women and backs of men. However, it can also occur in areas that are not normally exposed to the sun, such as the eyes, soles of the feet or the scalp.

When conducting a skin examination on patients, dermatologists consider a patient’s family history of melanoma and evaluate skin moles for any variation in color, asymmetry, increasing diameter, irregular borders or any changes in appearance. Individuals who have a genetic history of melanoma and fair skin are the most susceptible to the disease.

A failure to diagnose melanoma in a timely manner can lead to a worsened medical condition that could prove fatal without quick and aggressive treatment. People who have been harmed in this manner may want to discuss their situations with a medical malpractice attorney to see if there is any recourse available to them.