Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in the pigment-producing cells of the skin (called melanocytes). Though it can be cured if caught early, melanoma can be fatal if allowed to grow and spread, which is why early detection is crucial when it comes to treatment of the disease.
Melanoma can occur on any part of the skin, even on areas not typically exposed to the sun. It can arise on previously normal-appearing skin or from a pre-existing mole. Melanoma is most typically black or brown in color, but can also rarely be skin colored, white or red. We recommend that you perform monthly self-skin exams to identify any suspicious or changing lesions. If you notice any spots that look different from the others or ones that bleed or itch, see your dermatology provider.
The “ABCDEs of Melanoma”
Remember the “ABCDEs of Melanoma:”
A (Symmetry) – Asymmetry or irregularity in shape is common in melanoma.
B (Borders) – Consider the borders of lesions as with melanoma, we often find ragged or blurred borders.
C (Color) – We also look at the color of lesions. Moles can be a variety of colors but should be uniform in color. Lesions with multiple colors should be evaluated by a dermatology provider.
D (Diameter) – Also, consider the diameter of a mole. Melanomas can grow in size over time. Lesions over 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) can be more concerning.
E (Evolving) – Lastly, any evolving or changing lesions should be evaluated.
When in doubt, see your dermatology provider for a skin exam. If there is any doubt about your lesion, we will often remove or biopsy it and have results back in around two weeks.