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Know Your Melanoma ABCDE’s

In recognition of the month of May as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Price Skincare Clinic is running a series of blog posts on Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer in the United States.

Some Melanoma Facts:

  • In 2016, some 75,000 people were diagnosed with invasive melanomas.
  • Each year, some 10,000 people die from melanoma-related illnesses.
  • Exposure to the sun is one of the highest risk factors for melanoma

Early detection is critical to the treatment of skin cancers like melanoma. You can do this through a monthly self-exam of your skin, followed up with an annual check by your skincare doctor.

To help you do this, we recommend following the American Academy of Dermatology’s list of five visual signs to watch for called ‘the ABCDEs of melanoma’.

Overview of signs and symptoms
Melanoma comes in different shapes and sizes and it doesn’t look the same on every victim’s skin.

During your self-exam, take note of any new moles or growths, and any existing growths that show signs of growth or change. In particular, watch for lesions that change, itch, bleed, or don’t heal.

You should know that:
• Melanoma will look unusual: unlike other moles on your skin
• Melanoma will typically have an odd shape and vary in colo
• Melanoma will sometimes itch, bleed and feel painful.
• Use The ABCDEs of melanoma as a reference guide of what to watch for.

Know Your Melanoma ABCDE’s
Although moles and growths on the skin are generally harmless, they can be life-threatening. It’s important to know your skin well and to recognize any changes in the moles on your body.

What follows are the ABCDE signs of melanoma. If you see one or more of these during your self-exam, make an appointment with a physician immediately.

A = Asymmetry
You could be at risk for melanoma if your mole is asymmetrical, which means that one side looks different from the other. To determine whether your mole is asymmetrical or not, draw a line through the middle. If the two sides do not match, it is asymmetrical and you need to see your doctor.

B = Border
If the border (or edges) of your mole are uneven, scalloped or notched, you may be at risk. A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas.

C = Color
If your mole consists of multiple colors such as various shades of brown, tan or black; or red, white or blue, you may be at risk. Benign molds are usually a single shade of brown.

D = Diameter
Although melanomas may be smaller when first detected, they usually grow larger in diameter than a pencil eraser. Benign moles are usually smaller in diameter. Rapid growth over a few weeks or months could indicate cancer so make sure your doctor checks out anything larger than a pencil eraser.

E = Evolving
Some moles don’t fit the criteria for the descriptions above. But when a mole starts to evolve – or change – they can be cancerous and you should see a doctor. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptoms can be problematic.

Be sure to see your skin doctor annually to conduct a full skin exam. If you find anything suspicious on your skin between visits, schedule another one immediately.

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