May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month
The most obvious skin cancer warning sign is the development of a persistent bump or spot in an area of sun-damaged skin. These spots are likely to bleed with minimal trauma and produce superficial erosion.
How Melanoma Cancer Develops: Although it is possible for a previously benign mole to become malignant, most of the time a melanoma cancer begins as a single malignant cell in previously normal skin and then continues to grow in an un- controlled manner.
Malignant Melanoma: Malignant melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer because it tends to spread at a very early stage to other parts of the body. The likelihood that it has spread is most directly related to the thickness of the melanoma as measured from its surface to its depth by a pathologist. This information is communicated to the doctor that submitted the nevus and subsequent treatment depends on this information.
ABCDEs of Melanoma
Melanoma Symptoms: ‘A’ Is for Asymmetry: Asymmetry refers to the degree of similarity when one compares the appearance of each of four quadrants produced by an imaginary cross through the middle of a melanocytic nevus.
Melanoma Symptoms: ‘B’ Is for Border: Border refers to degree of circular regularity of the edge of a pigmented lesion. Perfectly circular lesions are rarely malignant.
Melanoma Symptoms: ‘C’ Is for Color: Color: The degree of uniformity of color is a measure of a typicality. The more colors present the more likely the lesion is to be malignant.
Melanoma Symptoms: ‘D’ Is for Diameter: Diameter: Although malignant pigmented lesions tend to be larger than a pencil eraser this is one of the less reliable criteria for distinguishing melanomas.
Melanoma Symptoms: ‘E’ Is for Evolving: Evolving: Malignancies by their very nature tend to change over time — mostly by increasing in size — as opposed to benign lesions that are stable. Since cancers grow in an uncontrolled way they tend to produce asymmetrical lesions.
Melanoma Symptoms: In addition to the ABCDEs of melanoma, symptoms may include a sore that will not heal, pig- ment that spreads from the border of a spot into the surrounding skin, redness or swelling around a skin spot, or a spot that becomes itchy, tender, or painful. Symptoms may include scariness, bleeding, or oozing from the surface of a mole.
Reduce Your Skin Cancer Risk by: Protecting your skin, avoiding UV damage, seeking shade to avoid skin cancer, and choosing the right sunscreen.
Provided by: Melanoma Research Foundation