Melanoma is one of the most lethal skin cancers that can arise mainly as a result of overexposure to the sun. While some moles can be harmless, it’s vital to check even the smallest marks for anything that appears to be unusual. Sunscreen, protective clothing, and annual skin exams are great ways to prevent skin cancer or catch it early. But if a mole or skin discoloration changes and appears suspicious, knowing the signs of melanoma will allow you to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Remember Your ABC’s
A common trick for checking for melanoma is remembering ABCDE: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution. Remembering these simple letters is one of the most popular methods for detecting skin cancer. If you have any of the following, contact a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options.
A healthy mole is symmetrical horizontally and vertically, forming a more or less even circle. Skin cancer is typically uneven and asymmetrical, with an odd shape on one side.
Does your mole have a clear border? Melanoma is splotchy or blurred, while a healthy mole has defined edges.
A healthy mole is not a picasso painting. It should be a single color and shade throughout. It can be brown, black, or even shades of red, but not a combination. Splotches of color or changes in color should be noted.
How big is the mole? See your doctor if a mole is larger than a pencil eraser, but be aware that melanoma is sometimes smaller.
Any change should be a red flag. Healthy moles do not grow, shrink, or change color over time. If a previously healthy mole is starting to show signs of the symptoms above, contact your healthcare provider.
Besides ABCDE, there are other symptoms of melanoma. Check regularly for any redness around a mole, sores that do not heal, or changes in the texture of a mole. A scaly, bumpy or bleeding mole could also be a sign of skin cancer. Other signs include itchiness, or mole that’s hot to the touch or painful.
Regular examinations can help detect and prevent melanoma. If you detect any of these irregularities, schedule an appointment with us for diagnosis and removal of suspicious lesions. Skin cancer can be deadly, but manageable when detected early. Muskegon Surgical Plastic Surgery provides skin exams.