Home : News : Article Display

Melanoma: the 'ugly duckling' lesion


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. One of the more worrisome types of skin cancer is melanoma.


Melanoma is a skin cancer that grows in pigment-making cells, called melanocytes. It is potentially life threatening and often begins as an “ugly duckling” lesion.


“The first sign of a melanoma could be a new mole (brown or red lesion) that looks different than your other moles or a mole that you’ve had for a long time that suddenly starts changing. If you notice a concerning lesion, you should visit your primary care provider to have it evaluated,” said Dr. (Lt. Col.) Marsha Mitchum, 11th Medical Operations Squadron dermatologist.


Even though we blame the sun for melanoma, it is only part of the story. Genetic pre-disposition has an influence on who is at risk for getting melanoma. All races and ethnicities are at risk.


“Although melanoma sometimes arises in non-sun exposed areas, you can reduce your overall risk of getting melanoma by protecting yourself from the sun. The most damaging sun exposure occurs between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Avoid excessive sun exposure during these hours whenever possible. When you and your family members are out in the sun, cover up with sunblock, hats, and swim shirts,” Mitchum said.


The treatment of melanoma ranges from cutting out the melanoma, to removing lymph nodes, to very serious cancer medications for melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body. In the case of melanoma, an ounce of prevention with the use of sunblock may be worth 10 tons of cure.


Enjoy your summer but be smart in the sun. This includes regular use of clothing that covers your skin and apply sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher in areas that are not directly covered by that clothing. Sunblock should be reapplied every two hours.


Patients who have a concerning pigmented lesion should contact their Primary Care Manager for evaluation and possible referral to dermatology.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.