What to Know About Melanoma May 10, 2022 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Have you ever heard of melanoma? Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can be treated successfully if treated early, but if not, it can be fatal. This is why it is so important to keep an eye out for changes in your skin. Here's what you need to know about melanoma.
What is Melanoma?Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin and gives your skin color. Once it starts, it continues as an uncontrolled growth of cells. This makes it much more likely to spread compared to other types of skin cancer.
Who is Likely to Get Melanoma?Anyone can get melanoma, but there are a few factors that put others at a higher risk of developing it. Factors that may increase your risk include:
- exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds
- a fair complexion
- a history of sunburns
- a family history of melanoma
- a large number of moles on your skin
- a weakened immune system
- living close to the equator or at a higher elevation
What Does Melanoma Look Like?Melanoma may appear as its own unusual growth or develop within an already existing mole. It can occur on any part of the body but is most commonly found on the chest, back, legs, head, and neck. With this in mind, melanoma can appear differently for everyone. The general characteristics used to identify skin cancer can be found through the ABCDEs:
- A is for asymmetry. Does your mole look irregularly shaped?
- B is for border. Is the edge of your mole ragged, blurred, or uneven?
- C is for color. Are there multiple colors in your mole and is the color distribution uneven?
- D is for diameter. Is your mole larger than 1/4 inch, about the size of a pencil eraser?
- E is for evolving. Is your mole changing in size, shape, or color?