Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The ABCs of Skin Cancer Detection

When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is key. While it is important to schedule an annual exam with your dermatologist, there are also signs you can be on the lookout for in order to assist in early detection.

According to the American Melanoma Foundation, you should monitor the following four appearance characteristics of moles:

  • A for Asymmetry – if a mole has one half that is different from the other half 
  • B for Border Irregularity – if a mole has uneven, blurred or jagged edges
  • C for Color – if the color is uneven or if different shades of color are present
  • D for Diameter – if the diameter is greater than six millimeters (the diameter of a pencil eraser)

Another study by a group from NYU School of Medicine stresses the importance of also focusing on the next letter in line:
  • E for Evolution – if a mole changes in shape, size or color over time, or if there is itching, soreness or surface bleeding around the mole

According to the study, this additional characteristic refers to nodular melanoma, a type of melanoma that doesn’t fit specifically within the ABCD detection criteria. Nodular melanoma is the most aggressive type of melanoma and typically does not appear suspicious at first glance. However, 78% of patients with nodular melanoma noted that their lesions typically experienced some type of change in shape. In fact, the study concluded that moles that changed appearance were at least four times more likely to be diagnosed as melanoma. 
In order to protect yourself from melanoma, you must be proactive! It is crucial to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but you may also monitor any suspicious moles by keeping ABCDE in mind. Remember to report any areas of concern to your doctor immediately, which will help stop melanoma in its tracks. 
To speak to a dermatologist or a member of our talented staff, call Greenville Dermatology today at 864-242-5872. 

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