May is Melanoma Awareness Month

7 May

Although melanoma accounts for only about 4 to 5 percent of all skin cancer cases, it causes most skin cancer-related deaths. However, if detected and treated in its earliest stages, melanoma is often very curable.

In men, melanoma is most often found on the area between the shoulders and hips or on the head and neck. In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs. For me it’s been in odd locations…back, arm and lower back.

The chance of developing melanoma increases with age, yet it is still one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Skin cancer affects one in five Americans, and more than 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Of these cases, more than 65,000 are melanoma, a cancer that claims nearly 11,000 lives each year.

Melanoma often develops in a pre-existing mole that begins to change or a new mole. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of melanomas arise from an atypical mole. This is why it is so important to be familiar with the moles on your body and perform regular self-examinations of your skin.


When looking at moles, keep in mind the ABCDEs of Melanoma Detection:

1.) Asymmetry. If you could fold the lesion in two, the two halves would not match.

2.) Border. Melanomas often have uneven or blurred borders.

3.) Color. Melanoma typically is not one solid color; rather it contains mixed shades of tan, brown, and black. It can also show traces of red, blue or white.

4.) Diameter. While melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller. If you notice a mole different from others, or which changes, itches, or bleeds even if it is smaller than 6 millimeters, you should see a dermatologist.

5.) Evolving. A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.


It is important to realize that a mole may have some of the characteristics described above and not be a melanoma. A biopsy is often necessary to distinguish an atypical mole from a melanoma.

Other warning signs of melanoma include:

  • Change in the appearance of a mole, such as the spreading of the pigment from the border of the mole into the surrounding skin

  • A mole that looks scaly, oozes, or bleeds

  • Itching, tenderness, or pain in a mole or lesion

  • Brown or black streak that appears underneath a nail or around the nail

  • Bruise on the foot that does not heal.

Here is a linky on How To Perform a Self-Exam

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