Know your ABCDEs – The warning signs of Melanoma
Have a mole that has raised some concern? New studies have revealed that existing moles are the source of less than one-third of melanomas. Majority appears on the skin as new spots.
What is melanoma?
Let’s start at the beginning. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. Damaged skin cells trigger mutations that lead to the rapid multiplication of skin cells that consequently form malignant tumors.
You have a mole. Should you be worried?
While any existing or new skin abnormalities should be checked by a dermatologist, new research have shown that most melanomas do not originate from existing moles. Researchers have reviewed 38 published studies comprising 20 126 melanomas, and they’ve found that only around 29% arose from existing moles while the other 71% appeared on the skin as new spots.
“These results could indicate that patients who monitor their existing moles for suspicious changes could detect melanoma in its early stages, when it’s most treatable,” says study author Caterina Longo, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. “Because the disease is more likely to appear as a new growth, however, it’s important for everyone to familiarize themselves with all the moles on their skin and look for not only changes to those moles, but also any new spots that may appear.” – Source
The warning signs of Melanoma
A – Asymmetry: If you draw a line through a mole and both sides do not match, being asymmetrical, it should be seen as a warning sign for melanoma.
B – Border: If the mole is benign, it will have smooth, even borders whereas with melanomas, the borders tend to be uneven.
C– Colour: Benign moles are often a shade of brown however if you have mole in various colours, it is a clear warning sign. Melanoma often becomes red, white or blue.
D – Diameter: Benign moles are often smaller than malignant moles. Melanomas are usually bigger in diameter than the eraser at the tip of a pencil.
E – Evolving: Benign moles tend to stay the same over time however, you should be on alert when the mole starts to change in any way. Consult a doctor when the mole changes in size, shape, elevation, colour or if you experience symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.
The most important thing is to never leave the house without sunscreen on. Be it sunshine, rain, snow or wind, you’ll thank yourself in future and spare yourself painful sunburn that may lead to more sinister outcomes.