The following post is in honor of Melanoma Awareness Month and references a post titled, “Melanoma” published by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Melanoma is a serious skin cancer that is characterized by uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells. Melanomas can appear on the skin suddenly or develop from an existing mole. Like all cancers, early detection of melanoma is essential. Advanced melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, which can result in death. At Naaman Clinic, we want to educate the public.
Melanoma has several different causes, but most cases are related to ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Both natural UV (from the sun) and artificial UV (from tanning beds) can cause melanoma and increase the risk of a normal mole progressing to melanoma. Exposure to UV light can increase the risk of melanoma in certain groups:
- People who live in sunny climates are exposed to a more intense sunlight and are therefore at a greater risk for developing melanoma
- People aged 65 and older have higher rates of melanoma due to the cumulative UV exposure they’ve received over the course of their lifetime
- People who have experienced five or more severe sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 years old have an increased lifetime risk of melanoma
- Exposure to artificial UV light from tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma
Recognition of changes in dark spots is one of the best ways to detect melanoma. If you have a changing mole or a new mole that doesn’t look like any others, you should make an appointment with your local dermatologist. The “ABCDE” rule for changing moles is handy for spotting potential melanomas:
- Asymmetry: Moles with an asymmetrical appearance
- Border irregularity: A mole with jagged or blurred edges
- Color: A mole with more than one color
- Diameter: Moles with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolving: A mole that has gone through sudden changes in shape, size, or color.
Prevention and early detection of melanoma leads to the best outcomes.
Any spot that violates the ACD rules or that is itchy, bleeding, or growing should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Dr. Bailey has written the textbook chapter on diagnosis and treatment of melanoma in the foremost dermatology textbook. He and his team are highly trained in the diagnosis and surgical management of melanoma.