May is Melanoma Awareness Month. It’s important to understand that melanoma skin cancer is a form of cancer that can be deadly if left unchecked. Many melanomas arise from existing moles, and checking for any suspicious looking moles can prevent melanoma development.
Know Melanoma’s warning signs
That’s why early detection is important. I recommend using the following to see if any of your moles have atypical features.
A = Asymmetry. Is the mole symmetrical or is one half unlike the other?
B = Border. Is the border irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined?
C = Color. Is the color uniform or varied from one area to another? Are there shades of tan, brown, or black or even sometimes white, red, or blue?
D = Diameter. How big is the mole? Is the mole greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser)?
E = Evolving. Has the mole changed in shape, size or color? A mole or skin lesion that has some other changes, such as bleeding, itching or drainage coming from it, may also be a sign.
Ways to prevent skin cancer
Your behavior matters. Here are a few ways you can protect against skin cancer:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Avoid getting sunburns.
- Say No to tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant one.
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See us every year for a professional skin exam and if you notice any changes.
The bottom line
If you have a mole that’s changed, schedule an appointment for evaluation. Feel free to contact us about this or any medical and cosmetic dermatological service.