This year an estimated 73,870 cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 10,000 people will die from the disease, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports. As alarming as those statistics sound--especially to a sun-drenched golfer--there is good news in the fight against melanoma.
If detected early--before cancerous cells infiltrate the body's lymph nodes--the survival rate is now 98 percent. And for those with advanced stages of the disease, the odds of survival are on the rise, too, thanks to an innovative treatment being used at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
One of the mysteries of cancer is that its cells largely go undetected by the body's natural immune system. But the new drugs have proved effective in getting the immune system to recognize the mutated cells and destroy them.
To help prevent and beat the disease, have your skin checked annually. If you have more than 100 moles on your body, you're at greater risk. Black and brown moles that are scaly, large or asymmetrical in shape, could be melanoma.
For everything you need to know about skin cancer including a chart of what a cancerous mole looks like read, "Ways to Avoid and Detect Skin Cancer"
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
(Illustration by Ken Tackett)