Melanoma is a very dangerous and potentially lethal form of skin cancer. Unfortunately, there are more new cases diagnosed every year in the United States. A monthly self-skin examination is a simple but potentially life-saving measure that all people should utilize to help detect possible skin cancer as early as possible, when medical intervention can be most effective. Evaluate lesions on your skin based upon the ABCDEU acronym. (Information provided from www.skincancer.org)
A. Asymmetry – Benign moles are not symmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match, meaning it is symmetrical. If you draw a line through this mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign that it may be a melanoma.
B. Border Irregularity - A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike a melanoma. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be irregular. The edges may be scalloped, notched or indistinct.
C. Color - Most benign moles are one uniform color — often a single shade of tan or brown. If a lesion displays a variety of colors within it (including red/pink, dark gray/blue, brown, tan and/or black), this is another sign of possible melanoma.
D. Diameter - Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
E. Evolving - Benign moles tend to have the same appearance over time. Be on the alert when a spot on your skin starts to evolve or change in any way (size, shape or color). When a mole is evolving, call a dermatologist. If you have a skin lesion that changes in size, shape, color, elevation or develops any new sign or symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting, call a dermatologist and schedule an appointment to have the lesion evaluated.
F. “Ugly Duckling” sign – Most individuals grow moles of one or two varieties in terms of size and color. Pay close attention to whether you have a “mole” that doesn’t resemble any other lesion on your skin. It could be a serious problem.
G. The most important thing to remember is that if you have any questions about something on your skin, get it checked out by a board-certified dermatologist.
“You would be surprised how often a patient comes in to have some thing checked, and that spot ends up not being a problem but we find a skin cancer that the patient wasn’t even aware of” says Christopher Messana, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained skin cancer/Mohs surgeon in Parker, Colorado. “Obtain a full body skin exam and keep in mind the ABCDE acronym.”
“The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone practice monthly head-to-toe self examination of their skin, so that they can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Skin cancers found and removed early are almost always curable. Learn about the warnings signs of skin cancer and what to look for during a self-examination. If you spot anything suspicious, see a board-certified dermatologist.
Performed regularly, self-examination can alert you to changes in your skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer. For most people, once a month is ideal, but ask your dermatologist if you should do more frequent checks.
Seek out a board-certified dermatologist to perform a full-body skin exam. Then, start performing monthly self-examinations of your skin. After the first few times, self examination should take no more than 10 minutes – a small investment in what could be a life-saving procedure. (www.skincancer.org)
Elevated Dermatology and Skin Cancer Surgery Center is dedicated to helping you with all your skin health needs. They offer same day appointments for patients in their office, which is located at 10345 Parkglenn Way, Suite 100 in Parker, Colorado. Same day appointments are extremely uncommon as the average wait time to be seen as a new patient by a dermatologist is over 50 days in metro Denver. Elevated Dermatology is committed to making sure that you never have to wait and wonder if you possibly have skin cancer.
Now living in Colorado you may think that you will never have to deal with this disease. Join with us next week to see why even in Colorado its important to get your skin checked.
(Picture taken from tiphero.com)