Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and rates of this disease have increased notably over the past few decades, more so than any other form of cancer. Over 170,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year alone. With its growing prevalence, it’s important to know what signs to look for to help you diagnose and treat malignant melanoma early.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Cancerous growths develop when unrepaired damage to skin cells trigger mutations that lead skin cells to multiply and form malignant tumors.
Detecting Melanoma – Know your ABC(DE)s
When it comes to self-examinations to determine if there are any irregularities in your skin, it’s essential to know what to look for. A normal mole is usually evenly colored and either flat or raised. The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot that wasn’t there previously, or a spot that’s changed in size, shape, or color. The ABCDE rule helps us remember the things to seek out when looking to identify any unusual moles or marks on our bodies.
·A is for Asymmetry: Look for any oddly shaped moles on your body or any moles or birthmarks that do not match on either side.
·B is for Borders: Irregular moles tend to have irregular borders that are ragged or blurred.
·C is for Colors: You’ll likely find dark specs of color in abnormal moles or they may include shades of brown or black or patches of pink, white, red or even blue.
·D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (1/4 the size of a pencil eraser, according to American Cancer Society), though melanomas can often be smaller.
·E is for Evolving: Lastly, it’s important to note any moles on your body that change in any of the aforementioned categories.
Some melanomas don’t fit this category. Be sure to understand other things to look for on your body that could be telltale signs of melanoma, such as:
- The spread of pigment from a certain area
- Changes in skin sensations such as pain or itchiness
- Changes in the surface or a mole – including bleeding or a lump
- A sore or cut that doesn’t heal
Make an Appointment with a Specialist
Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you. It’s important to get screened annually for any changes in your body, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun or are a person with a lot of moles. For a practice of melanoma doctors in Tampa with years of experience, call the dermatology specialists at Alliance in Academic Dermatology today!