Melanoma

A Dangerous Skin Cancer
Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is characterized by uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells. While it is less common than basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma is more dangerous because of its ability to spread to other organs more rapidly if it is not treated at an early stage.

Only 20-30% of melanomas are found in existing moles.  While 70-80% of melanomas arise on normal-looking skin.

What does melanoma look like?

Melanomas present in many different shapes, sizes and colors. That’s why it’s tricky to provide a comprehensive set of warning signs. Since detecting melanoma early is so vital, we encourage everyone to perform monthly skin exams using the ABCDEs of Melanoma as a guide.

How dangerous is melanoma?

Melanoma is usually curable when detected and treated early. Once melanoma has spread deeper into the skin or other parts of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat and can be deadly.

  • The estimated five-year survival rate for U.S. patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent.
  • An estimated 7,180 people (4,600 men and 2,580 women) will die of melanoma in the U.S. in 2021.

How widespread is melanoma?

  • An estimated 207,390 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021.
  • Of those, 106,110 cases will be noninvasive and confined to the top layer of skin (in situ). An estimated 101,280 cases will be invasive, penetrating into the skin’s second layer.

 

 

 The ABCDEs of Melanoma

 

A is for Asymmetry

Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.

B is for Border

Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.

C is for Color

Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.

D is for Diameter or Dark

While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.

E is for Evolving

Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.

 

Cited from the Skin Cancer Foundation

 

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