Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but it can be cured if caught early.
You should check your own skin at home on a monthly basis, taking note of any new or changing growths or moles. Other warning signs may include a spot that is itching, bleeding, or just not healing in a reasonable amount of time. When checking your own skin, use a handheld mirror to look in difficult-to-see places, such as behind the ears, back of the neck, and your back. Don’t forget to look between your toes and at the bottoms of your feet.
As you examine your skin, consider using this body mole map created by the American Academy of Dermatology to document any spots that concern you.
As you perform your own exam, it can be challenging to determine what is a ‘normal’ spot and what could be cause for concern. Dermatologists have developed the ABCDE guidelines to help people recognize some of the warning signs of melanoma.
“A” stands for asymmetry. A mole should look symmetric if divided down the middle by an invisible line. Benign moles ought to have two matching halves. If the two sides are not equal, this could be a sign of melanoma.
“B” stands for border irregularity. You want your moles to have very even, round borders. If a mole has a jagged border, this could be a sign of skin cancer.
“C” stands for color. Benign moles have a uniform color. If your mole has multiple colors in it, you should get it examined by a dermatologist.
“D” stands for diameter. As a general rule, a mole larger than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) should be examined by your doctor. Now, many melanomas can start off smaller than 6 mm, so if the mole has any other warning signs, it should still be evaluated.
“E” stands for evolving. If a mole is changing or growing, it could be a sign of melanoma. If it starts to change in size, elevation, or color, it should be evaluated. If it starts to itch, hurt, or bleed, get it checked out.
The bottom line is this — know your skin, be aware of your moles, and immediately schedule an appointment with one of the providers at Central Texas Dermatology if your moles demonstrate one or more of the ABCDE’s of melanoma: 512-327-7779.