Paul M. Graham, DO
Melanoma Monday aims to increase awareness about melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer in which pigment cells within moles become malignant and spread rapidly to other areas of the body if left untreated. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities. Melanomas can develop anywhere on the body such as the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth. The incidence of melanoma continues to increase and thus should prompt yearly full body skin exams to decrease and prevent the development of a melanoma.
Melanoma Risk Factors
Melanoma is most common in light/fair skin individuals and those who have experienced high levels of UV exposure. Sunburns and tanning beds are two large risk factors associated with melanoma. Melanoma Monday aims to encourage people to do self skin exams regularly and seek treatment if there are recognized signs of melanoma (Discussed below). Early detection and treatment is associated with much higher survival rates. Melanoma Monday has helped save lives by educating the public about melanoma and encouraging early detection with yearly skin exams with prompt initiation of treatment if signs of melanoma exist.
Signs of a Melanoma: ABCDE
To help spread awareness and educate on the signs of melanoma, dermatologist typically use the mnemonic: ABCDE
A – Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical?
B – Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven?
C – Color: is the mole one uniform color?
D – Diameter: how big is the mole? Most melanomas have a diameter of 6mm or more.
E – Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color?
Early Detection Is Crucial
As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. When melanoma is found at a later stage or has metastasized, treatment options are limited and palliative care is the main course of action. Currently melanoma treatments with medication do not provide a cure. These medications have the potential to extend life for several months. Prognosis is typically poor for advanced stages of melanoma, hence early detection is critical for success. If you suspect you have a mole that meets any of the above signs, please schedule an appointment with your dermatologist promptly.
Spread the word and lives will be saved!
Visit the American Academy of Dermatology Website for more information
Photo Credit: AAD and PureDermatology
*The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.