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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The ABCDE of Melanoma

Photo by Texas Institute of Dermatology

Everyone has heard of melanoma. It’s not as common as other types of skin cancer, but it is much more dangerous, accounting for about 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths each year.

Melanoma is most often caused by genetic predisposition and/or prolonged exposure to the sun or sun-like UV light, such as a tanning bed. Even if you wear sunscreen daily, it’s important to regularly examine any suspicious spots on your skin, and to see a dermatologist if you are concerned. The good news is that if it’s caught early, melanoma can be treated. At Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Associates, we perform a procedure called Mohs surgery, which offers a 99 percent cure rate for skin cancers and leaves little or no scarring.

The trick is to catch these cancers early. When examining a spot, keep an eye out for these common signs of melanoma. Dermatologists refer to this as the “ABCDE of Melanoma,” and if all signs are present, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.

A – Asymmetry

Unlike benign moles, melanoma almost always has an asymmetrical, or irregular, shape. You should look for uneven edges or a spot that has two distinctly different sides.

B – Borders

Benign moles or freckles usually have smooth, even borders and present as a circle. Melanoma, on the other hand, will typically have irregular borders that don’t look like a regular shape.

C – Color

A benign mole or freckle is usually a single shade of brown. If you have a spot that shows multiple colors, it could be a melanoma. Colors that often present in melanoma spots include blue, black, brown and tan.

D – Diameter

Melanoma will often present as a larger spot than a benign mole. A melanoma lesion is usually 6 millimeters or larger in diameter, or at least the size of a pencil eraser.

E – Evolving

Keep an eye on your moles or other spots. Even if you don’t have melanoma, knowing how these types of spots evolve on your skin under normal circumstances may help you spot a problem later. If a mole changes color and size, visit a dermatologist as soon as possible. 

1 comment:

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