Melanoma could well be one of the most frightening types of cancer simply because of its somewhat stealthy nature. There is often little or no pain in the early stages, even after telltale changes have appeared in moles and skin lesions.
A further complication in getting an early diagnosis of skin cancer is that melanoma often strikes on locations of the body that are difficult to see during normal bathing and dressing. If you are concerned about melanoma and would like to educate yourself so that you can better look out for your own health and that of your loved ones, the following information can help.
What to watch for
Melanoma is often mentioned in reference to moles and skin blemishes, but it can also present as a simple lump, bump, area of skin discoloration, or open sore. In many cases, a mole that was always present will begin to change in size, color, or texture. Because this can happen gradually over a long period of time, the changes can be even more difficult to detect.
The ABCDE rule
Medical experts have established the ABCDE rule to make it easier for people to watch for signs of melanoma on their own or a loved one's body.
- A stands for the asymmetrical appearance when one half of a mole, birthmark, or area of skin discoloration does not match the other
- B is for the irregular or blurred appearance of the border of the mole or lesion
- C stands for changes in color, especially when there are different shades of brown or black, or when there pinks, whites, blues, or reds are involved
- D denotes diameter, as many melanomas are one-quarter inch or larger in size
- E is for the way the mole, lesion, or area of discoloration evolves and changes shape or color or grows in size
While this rule provides some clear examples of potentially cancerous or pre-cancerous melanoma activity to watch for, it is important to note that not all melanomas exhibit these changes.
In addition to the ABCDE rule, melanomas sometimes present as simple sores that seem to take a long time to heal, an uncomfortable or itchy patch of skin, or when there is discoloration or swelling outside the border of an existing mole.
To learn more about protecting your family from the threat of melanoma or melanoma cancer treatment services, take time to make an appointment with a dermatologist in your area.