Health News Ireland talks to Screening Nurse Edel Ruddy about the skin scourge that is Malignant Melanoma and how best to battle it… MALIGNANT Melanoma. Two words that are becoming more common every time you open a newspaper, or turn on the radio. Saturation coverage can do two things: it can scare the bejiggers out of you; or it can spur you to action. In the case of something like malignant melanoma, speed is of the essence…speed of detection, speed of treatment. Edel Ruddy is a screening nurse with a special interest in the treatment of melanoma. She shared her thoughts with Health News Ireland. “A mole is a build-up of melanin within the cells of the skin. A melanoma is a cancer of the cells of a mole.” Edel, who works for The Mole Clinic in Dublin, says a melanoma spreads only so far before it begins to penetrate deeper. “There are different types of melanoma. The Superficial Spreading form affects the upper layers of the skin. But this can dive into the body if left undetected and untreated,” says Edel Ruddy. “We would be encouraging people to examine all areas of their body for mole growths, or a change in the structure of the mole – and to act quickly.” She says more younger people are being detected with suspicious melanomas. “I personally have had a patient who developed a malignant melanoma when she was as young as 15.” Particularly Susceptible She says that there is another form of the condition that doesn’t receive that much coverage. It goes by the name of Subungual Melanoma. “This is a skin cancer that develops underneath the nails of your skin. So, again, it is vitally important to check the nails for bruising.” Irish people are particularly susceptible to sun damage. In fact, three out of every 4 Irish people have a skin type that falls in Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 is skin that always burns but never tans; Type 2 is skin that tans, but with difficulty. “Essentially, part of our problem lies in the fact that we have less melanin in the body to act as a barrier against the worst excesses of the sun,” says Edel. She says that Sun Beds are also proving a big problem in the area of skin health. “Sun Beds are a huge factor in developing skin cancer. Before the age of 35, you increase the risk by as much as 75% through Sun Bed usage. In the North (of Ireland) the use of Sun Beds is actually banned for people under the age of 18. “Another thing that people may not pay that much attention to is Sun Bed usage can also act as a major factor in ageing the skin.” Edel Ruddy trained as a general nurse in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, before transferring to a nursing home to work. She then re-trained in Skin Cancer Dermoscopy and eventually found her way to The Mole Clinic where she now specialises in skin cancer screening.