Melanoma diagnosis rates have increased considerably over the past few decades, faster than nearly all other cancers. Today, it is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Fortunately, if it is found early, melanoma can be treated. In this article, we will discuss the signs of skin cancer and melanoma to look for in order to ensure it can be successfully treated.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in cells that create melanin (pigmentation) in the skin. Melanoma can start anywhere on the body and is most common in lighter skin tones or people who naturally have freckles or moles, as well as people who live in sunny places.
What causes melanoma?
While the exact cause of melanoma is still unknown, research has shown that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning beds can increase your risk of developing melanoma. Avoiding extended exposure to UV radiation can help reduce your risk of melanoma.
The telltale melanoma symptom is typically a new spot on the skin or a change in the size, shape or color of an existing mole or spot on the skin. One method that doctors and dermatologists suggest using to help you determine whether a skin growth is abnormal, or that melanoma is present, is the ABCDE method. The ABCDE method is an acronym that refers to:
Similar to this acronym, at Academic Alliance in Dermatology, Dr. V has his own proven algorithm for identifying and diagnosing malignant melanoma called ABCDEFGHI.
A is for ANALYSIS: At AAD, we analyze the whole patient based on history and detailed family traits that focus on all cancers.
B is for BLADE BIOPSY: We sample suspicious moles to establish the degree of abnormality, risk profile, and explore phenotypes.
C is for COLOR: Melanoma is not just black! We study the rainbow for colors that do not fit or match the skin.
D is for DERMOSCOPY and DISTRIBUTION, not just Diameter: At AAD, we’ve established that certain invisible body stripes, called dermatomes, are more prone to develop melanomas. This research by AAD is innovative and cutting-edge.
E is for EVOLUTION and EMBRYOLOGY, not just Elevation: The left side of the body is often more likely to develop melanomas due to embryology, not the sun.
F is for FUNNY looking moles and FAMILY: AAD is one of the few organizations that studies up to four generations of a patient’s family members to determine the risk of melanoma.
G is for GENERATIONS and GENETICS: AAD recognizes that certain genes are responsible for cancers in different organs.
H is for HISTORY: History includes personal, family, professional/occupational, surgical, environmental history and social history.
I is for INSTINCT: Patient’s instinct, doctor’s Instinct, and nurse’s instinct are each considered important at AAD. Both experience and training have enhanced our ability to trust our instinct when something feels “off”.
Be sure to follow the above guide to identifying and detecting melanoma if both yourself and your loved ones. The AAD melanoma gallery is available for you to view firsthand images of signs of skin cancer. If you notice any changes to the skin, call your dermatologist immediately to discuss it with them. And if you need melanoma treatment in Tampa, call the specialists at Academic Alliance in Dermatology today.