Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. And although malignant melanoma only accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. Malignant melanoma can be found anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the backs of men and on the legs of women. Do monthly self-skin examinations and examine your entire body surface including in between your toes.
Use the ABCDE checklist to evaluate your moles:
A – Asymmetry: Common healthy moles are usually symmetric, so one half of a mole looks just like the other half. Most melanomas are asymmetric. If you draw a straight line through a melanoma, one half doesn’t look like the other half.
B – Border: Borders of a healthy mole are usually smooth and even. Most melanomas have irregular or scalloped borders. Sometimes the borders are not well defined.
C – Color: Healthy moles are usually a single shade of brown. Most melanomas have multiple shades of brown, tan or black. They may even turn red, blue or white as they grow.
D – Diameter: Most healthy moles are smaller than 6 mm, which is about the size of a pencil eraser. See a dermatologist to evaluate moles larger than 6 mm.
E – Evolving: Visit your dermatologist to evaluate any mole that changes in size, shape or color. Similarly, visit the doctor for or growths that bleed, itch, or develop a crust or scale.