The following are warning signs, the ABCDEs of melanoma from The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless — but not always. Anyone who has more than 100 moles is at greater risk for melanoma. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles. That’s why it’s so important to get to know your skin very well and to recognize any changes in the moles on your body. Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma, and if you see one or more, make an appointment with a physician immediately.
A – Asymmetry
The benign mole is not asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match, meaning it is symmetrical. If you draw a line through a cancerous mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma.
B – Border
A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
C – Color
Most benign moles are all one color — often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.
D – Diameter
Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
E – Evolving
Common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.
Please don’t ignore any of these warning signs. Our lives are important to those that love us, which should have some influence on how we live our lives. We, as a caste, are living longer. And if we are living longer, it just makes sense to be in as good of shape as possible as we age. Let’s enjoy the lives we have, but let’s grow older gracefully, and healthy.
To be continued …