Did you know that skin cancer effects 1 in 5 Americans? Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin, but they are more likely to start on the trunk (chest and back) in men and on the legs in women. The neck and face are other common sites. Melanomas most often arise on normal skin, but they may also occasionally occur in conjunction with a benign nevus (beauty mark or birthmark). The identification of potential melanoma lesions is best remembered by using the first five letters of the alphabet as follows:

Asymmetry – Melanoma lesions are often irregular, not symmetrical, in shape. A non-cancerous mole is typically symmetrical in shape. If you were to draw a line through the middle of a mole, the two halves should roughly match.

Border – Typically, a non-cancerous skin spot will have smooth, even borders. Melanoma spots usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.

Color – A non-cancerous mole is commonly a single shade of brown or tan. If there is a presence of more than one color, or an uneven distribution of color, this can be a warning sign of melanoma. Melanoma can occur in a variety of colors including brown, black, red, blue or purple. These spots can be flat or raised and can bleed easily. Non-melanoma skin cancer, also known as basal and squamous cell carcinoma, typically appear as small, pearly or pale bumps or as dark red patches that can be raised, flat or scaly in texture.

Diameter – Non-cancerous lesions are typically smaller than malignant ones. If the diameter is greater than a pencil eraser, it may be a sign that it is growing or changing. Larger spots that have been stable for an extended period of time are not typically cause for concern; though continued observation is recommended.

Evolving – The evolution of a skin lesion is the most crucial factor to consider when performing a self-skin check. This is why regular self-checks at home are so important. If you know what is normal, you will easily be able to tell if it has grown or evolved overtime.

Melanoma is one of the most common of all cancers. The good news is that skin cancer is highly curable when diagnosed and treated early by a skilled dermatologist. Knowing the signs of melanoma can help you notice when a spot on your skin is a cause for concern. The ABCDEs of melanoma is an easy way to remember what to watch for.

When it comes to spots on the skin, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have a suspicious skin lesion, contact The Center for Advanced Dermatology today at 602-867-7546 or mddermsolutions.com to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Holy.