The fun and sun of summer is knocking at the door, but so is the deadliest result of too much sun – melanoma. That’s why catching and treating it early is the key to battling and even curing melanoma.
Melanoma is tricky. It can start on the surface of the skin, under a nail or even in the eye. Once it gets started growing, it can grow deep into the skin and spread through the body. That’s what makes it so dangerous.
Anyone can get melanoma, regardless of age, sex or skin color. People with certain risk factors should be especially persistent about getting regular skin checks for melanoma and other skin cancers by a dermatologist.
Melanoma Risk Factors
People with these risk factors have a higher probability of developing melanoma:
- Fair, sun-sensitive skin that burns easily or tans poorly
- Red or blond hair; Blue or green eyes
- Have 50 or more moles
- Unusual or irregular-looking moles that are typically large in size
- A history of sunburns or indoor tanning bed use
- Blood relatives who have or had melanoma
- Immune system weakness due to disease, organ transplant or medication
- History of melanoma or another skin cancer
- Age 50 or older
What to Look For
A common warning sign of melanoma is change. Melanoma often begins in or near an existing mole. A change in the shape, color or size of a mole can be a warning sign of melanoma. Also be aware if a mole becomes painful or begins to bleed or itch.
Some melanomas develop suddenly and without warning. Regular skin self-exams can you identify these changes.
The ABCDE Rules of Melanoma
Make sure you are doing regular skin checks. Look for moles and other spots on your skin and apply the ABCDE rules listed below. During a skin self-exam, keep in mind that moles are typically uniform in color, round or oval and have a well-defined border. Though melanomas can vary greatly in appearance, most tend to have one or more of these ABCDE traits, and some have several.
- A = ASYMMETRY – One half is different than the other half
- B = BORDER – Irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
- C = COLOR – Varied from one area to another with shades of tan, brown, black and sometimes white, red or blue
- D = DIAMETER – Melanomas are usually wider than a pencil eraser, but they can be smaller
- E = EVOLVING – A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color
Make an appointment to see a Water’s Edge Dermatology provider if you notice any of the ABCDE traits. Your practitioner will examine any mole that has one or more of these traits and all new growths.
Remember, early detection and treatment saves lives. Click here to schedule a skin cancer screening at your nearest Water’s Edge Dermatology office.