Melanoma is where skin cells within moles become malignant and can rapidly spread to other areas of the body.
Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities.
Dr. Jon Ward of Gulf Coast Dermatology says "melanoma is the type of skin cancer that if it gets deep enough in your skin it can get in your lymph nodes and spread and can be very devastating. A lot of young people do get melanoma and once it gets to that depth, just 3/4 of a millimeter, very thin, you can have problems."
Many melanomas pop up on the face and arms but they can also develop in other areas of the body, including the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth.
While it's typically a less common form of skin cancer, melanoma is on the rise.
Dr. Ward says Gulf Coast Dermatology has found more than 50 skin cancers in just the last 30 days.
"I think it's due to the time of year that people are getting undressed, wearing less clothing out doors and they're seeing spots and that's prompting them to come in and get checked and when we take those samples and our pathologist looks at them, he's finding melanoma in many of those cases."
Sunburns, and the use of tanning beds are two risk factors associated with melanoma.
"I like to tell my patients, tanning is for your skin like smoking is for your lungs.
They both cause cancer and we know it."
Saturday, May 12TH, Gulf Coast Dermatology will be holding free skin cancer screenings at several locations around the area, including in Panama City, Panama City Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and Fort Walton Beach.
For more information on times you can log onto gulfcoastderm.com.