The Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma

What is one of the best defenses against almost ALL of the most common health problems? Awareness and knowledge about prevention, detection, and treatment. That holds true for one of the most serious forms of skin cancer, melanoma. Although melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, it’s also highly treatable when it’s detected early. Know the warning signs and best methods for detection to ensure you’re keeping yourself safe from melanoma.

Warning Signs - Melanomas can surface on any area of the skin or even on the nails. Performing self checks regularly is a great way to keep yourself safe from melanoma because a change in a mole is one of the hallmark signs of a dangerous mole. In addition to looking for changes, also look for: 
- A new spot or patch on your skin
- A spot that looks like a changing freckle or age spot
- Dark streak under a fingernail or toenail
- Band of darker skin around a fingernail or toenail
- Slowly growing patch of thick skin that looks like a scar

The ABCDEs of Melanoma Detection - Yearly skin cancer screenings are one of the best ways to ensure you are skin cancer free and to have any suspicious skin lesions examined. During your exam, Dr. Erik Hurst, nurse practitioner Dama Vance, or nurse practitioner Sarah Byrd will look for moles using the ABCDE method. You can also use this method to detect moles you think should be examined.

A = Asymmetry. Is one half unlike the other half? The shape of the mole plays a role in determining if the mole might be problematic.

B = Border. An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border can be associated with moles that are cancerous.

C = Color. Is the color of the mole varied from one area to another? Does the mole have has shades of tan, brown or black?

D = Diameter. How large is the mole? Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

E = Evolving. Is the mole changing in any way over time? A mole or skin lesion that is changing in size, shape or color might be cancerous.

Symptoms of melanoma
A melanoma may have only 1 or 2 of the ABCDEs. All of the criteria do not need to be present for a mole to be considered suspicious enough that it should be biopsied. For many people, melanoma is not associated with any pain or discomfort and the only sign is a change to their skin, scalp, or nail. However, sometimes melanoma causes one of more of the following:

- Itching

- Pain

- Bleeding

Our nurse practitioners and physicians are experts in detecting melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Call our office for your skin cancer screening.

Author
Candace Hurst

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