There are three types of skin cancer which can look quite different. Malignant melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer of the three. It’s important to be vigilant about your skin even though you’ve taken preventive measures all summer. During the winter you need to examine your body at least once a month and look for any suspicious moles. Self-exams are the key to early detection, and early detection can save your life.
When it comes to melanoma detection, following the ABCDE rule is the most efficient method. You must know what to look for in order to see if there are any potential signs and symptoms. Usually skin growths are harmless but that’s not the case always. People who have more than 100 moles have a greater risk of developing melanoma. That’s why it’s important to know your body well so that you can notice any irregularity immediately. Here are the ABCDE signs of melanoma, look for them on your body and if you notice one or more consult your doctor immediately.
The Warning Signs – ABCDE
A – Asymmetry
The moles which are not malignant are usually symmetrical. This means that if you draw a line through the middle of the mole both sides will be identical (picture 1). If you draw a line through the middle and both halves don’t match, it’s asymmetrical, meaning it can be a warning sign of melanoma
B – Borders
Benign moles have smooth and even border, clearly visible and distinguishable from the skin (picture3). On the other hand, malignant moles usually have uneven, scalloped or notched edges. It may even be difficult to determine the clear border between the mole and skin
C – Color
Benign moles usually have uniform pigmentation, often one single shade of brown (picture 5). Moles which have multiple shades of brown, tan or black, a variety of colors can be malignant. They can also be in one color but unevenly distributed on the entire surface (picture 6). These signs are also potential early symptoms of melanoma.
D – Diameter
Even if the mole doesn’t have the previously stated characteristics, if it’s larger than 6mm in diameter you should consult a dermatologist. Benign moles are usually smaller (picture 7) while melanomas can be larger than 6mm
E – Evolution
Benign moles tend to stay the same over time. Any change in your mole, regarding size, color, shape or elevation should be a sign for concern. If you notice any of these or any new symptom like itching and crusting, bleeding you need to consult your dermatologist immediately.
NOTE: The ABCDE Rule is in no way a substitute for your regular dermatological checkup, but can be very helpful in early detection of melanoma. That’s why you need to visit your dermatologist regularly and if you notice any suspicious changes schedule an appointment immediately.