Is This Melanoma?
Know Your Skin
Hereditary melanoma is just one risk factor for this rare but deadly form of skin cancer. Knowing your skin and checking it monthly is the first step in preventing melanoma. Make the 1st day of the month an easy day to remember to check your skin for the signs of skin cancer. Remember, if recognized and treated early, melanoma is almost always curable.
For a guide, as well as a body map and measurement guide, you can check out great tools from the Skin Cancer Foundation at: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/step-by-step-self-examination
Remember your ABCDE’s – look for moles with one or more of the following characteristics:
- Asymmetry: A mole with a different shape on one side of the mole compared to the other.
- Border irregularity: A mole with jagged or notched edges.
- Color variation: Moles with various shades of black and brown (or even pink, white, or blue). Normal moles are generally one color (ranging from tan to black).
- Diameter: Any mole larger than the head of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: Moles that have changed in appearance or the development of a new mole.
In addition, sometimes melanoma looks or feels different than common moles, which tend to look like each other. Be aware of the different looking mole also referred to as the ugly duckling.
Keep a body map to record questionable spots. Make a note of the date you checked and any changes. Take this with you for your annual dermatology skin check.
Contact your dermatologist promptly if you notice any suspicious moles, freckles or other marks or if you find something that fits the ABCDE or “Ugly Duckling” criteria. When in doubt, get it checked out!