Unlike some forms of cancer, melanoma is preventable and highly treatable when caught early. Signs of the cancer are visible on the surface of skin, so the first line of defense against melanoma progression is you. Protect yourself by conducting monthly self-exams to inspect moles and other marks on your body for abnormalities or changes.
To prepare for your self-exam, first find out what to look for by getting familiar with the “ABCDs” of melanoma. If you see any of the following signs, make an appointment with your dermatologist.
Asymmetry: Look for moles that appear different on one half from the other half.
Border: The borders of healthy moles are smooth and defined, not irregular, jagged or blurry.
Color: Look for spots with uneven or intensely dark color. Some can show shades of red, blue or white.
Diameter: Melanomas tend to be larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser or a pea), but they can be smaller.
For the exam find a private, well-lit room and a hand-held mirror. Your goal will be to inspect every inch of your skin from head to toe, as melanoma can develop on any part of the body — even if that part has never been exposed to the sun.
- Check your face, neck, ears and scalp. Use another mirror to check hard-to-see spots.
- Examine arms, including underarms, hands, between fingers and under fingernails.
- Check shoulders, chest and torso. Don’t forget your sides.
- Look over legs and feet, including the soles of feet and the spaces between toes.
- Use the hand mirror to check the back, buttocks and genital area.
If you see anything out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at Zimmet Vein & Dermatology. The sooner melanoma is detected, the better your chances of full recovery. Contact us today.