Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can affect anyone. When found early and treated, the cure rate is nearly 100%. However, if allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body quickly. When melanoma spreads, it can be deadly.
Dermatologists believe that the number of deaths from melanoma would be much lower if people knew the warning signs of melanoma and examined their skin for signs of cancer. When checking moles on the skin, a person should look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.
What are the signs of melanoma?
A = Asymmetry: One half is unlike the other half
B = Border: An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
C = Color: Varies from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes red, white or blue
D = Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but can be smaller
E = Evolving: Mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color
Anyone can get melanoma but there are some people that are at higher risk. These include people with the following traits:
- Fair skin (the risk is higher if the person has red or blond hair and blue or green eyes)
- Sun-sensitive skin (rarely tans or burns easily)
- 50-plus moles, large moles or unusual-looking moles
- Has had bad sunburns or spent significant time tanning (sun, tanning beds, or sun lamps)
- Family medical history (someone in the family has been diagnosed with melanoma)
Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer. The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50. Melanoma is now the most common cancer among people 25-29 years old.
It is believed that knowing the signs of melanoma and checking the skin frequently will increase the likelihood of catching melanoma before it spreads and becomes more dangerous. Contact us to set up your appointment for a skin cancer screening.