Saturday, July 4, 2009

ABCDEs of Skin Cancer

I recently had a mole on my knee biopsyed that turned out to be pre-cancerous. That and the fact that it's summer – coupled with an NPR Fresh Air segment with Dermatologist Darrell Rigel I heard last week -- compelled me to pass on what I learned about the A-B-C-D-Es of skin cancer which include any change or development in a mole or skin growth that should prompt you to see a doctor, including the characteristics listed below.

Generally look for the mole or pigmented lesion that stands out as looking different from your other moles.

  • A- Asymmetry: You should notice the general look of your moles or growths, for example, if one-half of the mole or growth does not match the other half.
  • B- Border Irregularity: Notice if the edges of the mole or growth are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C- Color: The pigmentation of the growth is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown and black are present. Dashes of red, white and blue add to the mottled appearance.
  • D- Diameter: If the width is greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser), it could be an indicator of an abnormal skin growth. Generally, any new mole growth should be a concern.
  • E- Elevation:If a mole is elevated, or raised from of the skin, it should be considered suspicious.

Other Danger Signs of Malignant Melanoma

  • Change in color, especially multiple shades of dark brown or black; red, white and blue,
  • Change or spreading of color from the edge of the mole into surrounding skin.
  • Change in size, especially sudden or continuous enlargement.
  • Change in shape, especially development of irregular margins or border.
  • Change in elevation, especially sudden elevation of a previously flat mole.
  • Change in the surface texture of a mole, especially scaliness, erosion, oozing, crusting, ulceration, or bleeding.
  • Change in the the surrounding skin, especially redness, swelling, or new moles.
  • Change in sensation, especially itching, tenderness, or pain.

Basically, any mole or growth that is CHANGING needs to be checked by a doctor.

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