Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It can be deadly if left untreated because it is a very aggressive cancer that spreads easily and quickly. As with all types of cancers and disease, early detection is crucial.
Even if you’re not a doctor, you should be sensitive to any unusual growths and changes on your skin. If you notice any, take it to the dermatologist right away. A test may be done to determine if it is cancerous. Take charge of your health and learn to detect melanoma. Here’s what to look out for.
- Do your inspection in a well-lit area. After you shower, look at your skin. Notice if there are any new moles, skin discoloration or patches on your skin. It will help to have a full-length mirror to see the hard to reach places. Check areas that get a lot of sun exposure such as your face, hands, forearms and the legs. You may even bring a LED light flashlight close to your skin so you can really see any irregularities on your skin surface.
- Check any moles and lesions on your skin. There are generally four things to look for when inspecting moles and lesions. Follow the ABCD rule when making an inspection. The asymmetry, border, color and diameter of the mole or lesion should be observed. If something protrudes, is bleeding or is discolored, inspect it carefully.
- Asymmetry. Melanoma will have an asymmetrical shape. Some melanoma may appear to have two different ends. Regular moles have a more circular shape compared to a skin cancer lesion. If it is irregularly shaped, observe it. If you notice any changes in its size, be careful. A regular mole may start off healthy but if it changes in shape or seems to grow outwards, it may have become cancerous.
- Border. Melanoma will have an irregular border compared to a mole. The edge may have a scalloped side. Moles usually have a clearly defined shape.
- Color. Melanoma appears to be brownish or reddish. In some cases, it may even take a purplish hue. A normal mole will be black or dark brown in color. If you find a mole that appears to bleed or is often itchy, it may also be melanoma.
- Diameter. Melanoma can be big in size. It oftentimes gets a diameter larger than 2mm. Healthy moles are usually smaller and more discreet.
Keep in mind this is a guideline but only a dermatologist or doctor can make an accurate diagnosis. Knowing what to look for will help you be more aware of any changes on your body. This information could save your life by helping you detect any changes immediately. To prevent skin cancer and the development of melanoma, protect your self. Always use a high SPF sunblock lotion when going outdoors. Apply it liberally thirty minutes before sun exposure to give your skin time to absorb the product. Wear a hat to shield your face and avoid sun exposure between 10am to 3pm, when the sun is at its hottest.