Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths, and has a high cure rate, when identified, diagnosed, and treated early. Melanoma can hide in plain sight, obscured by multiple types of benign skin lesions. They can occur anywhere on the body, including areas that have little or no sun exposure, such as the feet soles. The commonest locations are those exposed to sunlight such as the trunk, upper back, arms and lower legs, face, and neck. Most melanomas have a dark brown or black color. They may resemble large moles or even originate within an existing mole.
Worldwide, Drs recommend using the ABCDE approach to recognize melanoma:
A – Asymmetry: one half of the lesion does not match the other
B – Border irregularity
C – Color: different shades of brown or tan
D – Diameter: larger than 6 mm
E – Evolving: changing in size, shape, or color
A regular skin self-exam will help you to distinguish ordinary lesions from suspicious ones and it can be performed at home without special equipment or need for assistance.
It is recommended to be done regularly for people with an increased risk of developing skin cancer. When doing it for the first time, spend time learning the patterns of moles, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that changes may stand out during subsequent exams. These are some tips:
Facing a mirror in a well-lighted room, check your face, ears, neck, chest, and abdomen.
While sitting, inspect your thighs, shins, tops of your feet, between your toes, and under the toenails.
- Use a hand mirror to check the buttocks, groin, and genitals.
- Part your hair and carefully check your scalp.
If you are ever in doubt about a suspicious-looking skin lesion, see a healthcare professional.
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