Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, the cells that give skin its pigment. Often black or brown, melanoma is more dangerous than most other common skin cancers because it’s more likely to spread, if not found and treated early. However about 90 out of 100 melanomas are found before they spread. Regular self-exams are your first line of defense against melanoma, along with an annual full-body skin exam by your provider, who can teach you to distinguish normal from abnormal moles. An easy way to tell a normal mole from a melanoma, is to look for mole that does not look like your other moles and remember your A-B-C-D-E’s:
A = Asymmetry: One-half is unlike the other half.
B = Border: The border is irregular or poorly defined.
C = Color: The color varies within one mole or is different when compared to other moles.
D = Diameter: The outer edge of a mole is greater than 6 mm (the size of an eraser head on a pencil).
E = Evolving: Over time, the mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest changes in size, shape, or color.
The number of people with melanoma is increasing, but there are ways to lower your risk. Contact our office immediately if you notice any changes in your moles or skin. Your provider is an expert in diagnosing melanoma with a thorough physical exam of your skin, a dermaotoscopic exam (using a magnifying device to evaluate moles), and, in cases of individuals with multiple moles, by digital photomapping to track any changes that may occur.
The majority of melanomas can be cured by excision, a procedure performed in our office under local anesthesia. Based upon the type, size and depth of the melanoma, our dermatologists will advise you on the approach to treatment and follow up.