There is skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States with over one million cases annually. Not to trivialize, but most of those cases are basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma and are generally easily and successfully treated.

It is the third in the trio of skin cancers that can and often does change and end lives, Melanoma. Melanoma, while a skin cancer, is extremely aggressive and invasive.

As with most kinds of cancer, early detection and treatment is the key to winning the battle. Self magazine recently ran an article on the ABC’s of Skin Cancer and gave a 5 step list for self examination and identifying problems while still in the early stages. The real message from this timely article was not to get caught sitting and watching a mole change or grow.

From a life insurance standpoint Melanoma is a tough challenge. The real issue is stage and grade, how advanced is it and how deep is it. A melanoma in situ is the best case scenario. Fully encapsulated with very shallow margins, a melanoma in situ can be removed surgically without concern of spread. Generally shortly after successful treatment standard or better rates are available. The deeper the Clark’s level of the melanoma the tougher the underwriting. With higher grade cancers it can be as long as 10 or more years before you can get back to standard rates and it is not unusual, just because of the tenacious, aggressive nature of melanoma, that once you have had it, you might never do better than standard rates.

Bottom line. Vigilance is the key. Don’t poopah that mole. Get it checked out by a dermatologist and if it starts changing at all, run, don’t walk back.