Melanoma awareness month is May of every year, but we should be aware everyday.
Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, which is responsible for our skin tone. Most melanomas appear dark in color, however, there is a rare form that does not have dark pigment from melanin and is called “amelanocytic”, appearing pink or red in color. Half of the documented melanomas arise from an existing mole and half arise from completely normal skin.
Melanoma can affect people of any age and skin type and can appear anywhere on the body, including areas that have never been exposed to the sun. People with light hair, light eyes, family history of melanoma, and extensive sun exposure and sunburns are at an increased risk for developing melanoma. Statistically speaking, melanomas occur most often in hard to see areas, for example the back for men and the back of the legs for women.
Melanoma accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers but is responsible for almost 80% of deaths related to skin cancer. Often they are considered silent killers because they have no symptoms until they are advanced. This is why monthly self-surveillance and yearly skin exams using the ABCDEs by an experienced dermatologist is so important.
A – Asymmetry (does each half of the lesion match?)
B – Borders (look for any irregularities)
C – Color (blue, brown, grey, black, red, white, and combinations)
D – Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser)
E – Evolving (any noticeable change)
Please remember to have a skin exam by a Dermatology Specialist at least once a year!!