CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Melanoma Monday is recognized on the first Monday of May each year.

It’s the deadliest form of skin cancer but has a 99% cure rate if caught early.

“Melanoma varies in terms of how aggressive it can be. If caught early, it can be removed from the skin and doesn’t have any long-term consequences,” explained Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, a dermatologist with Cleveland Clinic.

“However, over time, melanomas can go deep in the skin and then invade the lymph nodes and spread elsewhere. There can be mortality associated with it. Early detection is key to getting the best outcomes.”

According to Dr. Khetarpal, cases of melanoma have been on the rise. The chance of developing melanoma increases with age, but it can still impact young people as well as all skin types.

Get moles or other spots on your skin checked if you notice they’re asymmetrical, have an irregular border or uneven color.

A spot that’s bigger than the tip of a pencil eraser or changing in some way should also be investigated.

Dr. Khetarpal said sunscreen is key to protect yourself from the disease, as ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes nearly 90% of melanomas.

“If you are going to be outside, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s important to reapply every two hours and make sure to use a water-resistant sunscreen at the pool,” Dr. Khetarpal said. “If you don’t want to lather up in a lot of sunscreen, you can try ultraviolet protection factor clothing, or UPF clothing, for some protection.”

Dr. Khetarpal adds it’s crucial to get regular skin checks – especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer.