skin check, spot melanoma, help prevent skin cancer

Most people have heard that melanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer. For years they have been advised to look for any moles that have changed color, shape or size. But it turns out that a lot of melanomas occur in places where there were no moles previously. How can you spot melanoma early?

Striving to Spot Melanoma as Early as Possible:

A review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that fewer than one third of melanomas start in existing moles. Of the 20,000 skin cancers that were included in the analysis, 71 percent started as a stand alone lesion. These melanomas also tended to be more aggressive than those originating around moles.

Review Your Whole Skin:

People need to pay attention to anything new or different that shows up anywhere on their skin. Enlist a partner to check those places that you cannot see, such as your back or the backs of your thighs. Use your phone to take pictures of any spots you see so you can keep track of them, but don’t wait: make an appointment with a dermatologist to have any new spots checked out right away.

How to Spot Melanoma:

One rule of thumb is to look for ABCDE. Those letters stand for Asymmetry and border irregularity. That means the spot is uneven. C stands for color variability. D is for diameter, bigger than a pencil eraser and E is for evolving. That means the spot is changing. A dermatologist should evaluate any such lesions.

Pampena et al, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, online Aug. 29, 2017

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  1. Kate M

    I had a stage 1 melanoma – it just looked like someone had put a dot on me with a sharpie – an intense black dot.

  2. Doug
    Woodstock, Georgia

    In 1996 I had a small round, tan freckle puff up on my stomach. Not much but before it couldn’t be felt, Just a freckle. I wash with a bar of soap so I know my body and noticed this change. Now I could feel it. I didn’t like that so I went to my dermatologist who told me not to worry about it.

    It was tan, round and did not look like melanoma. I told him to take it off as I’m not going for anything changing on my body. They called me a few days later said I had level 2 melanoma and they operated on me a day later. I saved my life by going against my doctor and going with my own feelings. If anything changes on your body get it removed. This might save a life if known. Melanoma doesn’t always follow the rules.

  3. BB

    Anybody have a doctor who knows how to fluoresce melanoma with doxycycline?

  4. John
    Croydon, PA

    I have had more than 200 dysplastic nevi removed. While it only addresses part of the melanoma risk, at least, having all of those moles removed, it makes it easier to focus on an unusual growth that could be cancerous. I am not very observant, and I would miss it.

  5. Janet

    My husband was recently diagnosed with an amelanotic melanoma, one with no dark pigment. It was a reddish nodular lesion on his forearm. Even his dermatologist was surprised at the pathology report. He had a wide excision and sentinel node biopsy. Despite having negative nodes, he has a 33% chance of dying from melanoma. Use SUNSCREEN!!!

  6. Stephanie

    A dermatologist at M.D. Anderson told me to also look for patches rimmed in a reddish hue. It could be cancer drawing in extra blood for nourishment.

  7. Isabel

    I am 73 years young and come from a country with very little sun. I am not a sun worshiper.
    I had a pimple on my leg that got infected. I let it go because I was going for my yearly
    physical in a week. It turned out to be Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
    I needed Moes surgery to remove all the cancer and, as it was on my shin bone, it was harder to heal.

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